A Shortfall of Gravitas make it's first catch
August 29th at about 3:20 AM Est of the Florida Atlantic coast
Tuesday August 31st shortly after eight in the morning ASOG (A Shortfall of Gravitas) sailed into Port Canaveral with its first ever catch for the SpaceX fleet. Falcon 9 booster 1061 which flew the CRS-23 mission just two days prior for the company and NASA to send a Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station landed on this drone ship roughly eight minutes after launching from Launch Complex 39A. The 162 foot tall or sixteen story tall booster was a sight to behold as it is much taller than most surrounding buildings in Port Canaveral. The fresh paint of the SpaceX logo and drone ship name scorched for the first time was a thing of beauty to us rocket chasers. Booster 1061 landed almost dead center of the drone ship, completely covering up the SpaceX logo. The X was covered almost fully, just the long top of the X was left hanging out from under the landing legs leaving us cheering as we circled above in a helicopter. Booster 1061 is now the first to land on ASOG and also the first to land on all three drone ships used by SpaceX as in the past it has landed on both OCISLY, and JRTI.
This drone ship, first teased by Elon Musk back in 2018 sailed into Port Canaveral earlier this month after the long awaited tease. Like the other two drone ships used by SpaceX ASOG is used as a mobile landing zone which is towed offshore in the Atlantic Ocean where Falcon 9 rockets land after dropping their second stage into orbit over our Earth. Unlike the other two ships, Of Course I Still Love You, and Just Read the Instructions, ASOG is fully autonomous. This means no tug boats are needed to bring it too and from the LZ (landing zone) before and after the booster lands onboard.
However for this first mission SpaceX did not leave ASOG to it's own, as their usual tug boat pulled it out and back in again. We are unsure at this time when exactly the drone ship will be making it's own way, best guess is that they wanted to be sure all systems are running smoothly, thus using the tug for this first mission. According to SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk this upgraded ship has engines that are more powerful that it's two predecessors therefore able to handle rough seas better. An important capability considering over the past few years many launches have had to be scrubbed due to inclement weather and rough seas.
This marks the ninetieth landing of a SpaceX Falcon rocket since their first successful landing back in 2015. This count is for both East and West coast operations for the company. Recently SpaceX sent one of their drone ships, Of Course I Still Love you back to the Port of Los Angeles where operations will soon resume on their Starlink constellation. We aren't sure yet which ship on the East coast will be called to action next, but my money is on ASOG again for the upcoming Inspiration 4 mission which will launch the first all private citizen mission to space on September 15th, 2021.
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