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Of Course I Still Love You

SpaceX

Of Course I Still Love You berthing at Port Canaveral with a Falcon 9 booster – SpaceX

Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) is a SpaceX autonomous spaceport droneship (ASDS) that is operated out of the Port of Long Beach, California. OCISLY droneship was previously based at Port Canaveral, Florida from 2015 to 2021. The droneship is built upon a modified barge – Marmac 304 – and is named after a spacecraft of the same name from the novel ‘The Player of Games‘ from author Iain M. Banks’s Culture series.

OCISLY droneship is a modified barge that is outfitted with a large landing platform, station-keeping thrusters, and other equipment to allow SpaceX to land Falcon boosters at sea on high-velocity missions that cannot carry enough fuel to allow for a return-to-launch-site landing.

Construction of OCISLY started in early 2015 in Louisiana, entering service in Florida in June of that year. OCISLY is built upon barge Marmac 304. Modifications included an expanded deck to increase the size of the landing platform, installation of four thruster engines so the droneship can autonomously maintain its position at sea, and blast shielding to protect the electrical, engine, and other ground support equipment on the forward and aft.

OCISLY stern, showing generators, thrusters and other equipment – Julia Bergeron

Of Course I Still Love You is equipped with four azimuth thrusters that are fitted to each corner of the landing platform. When deployed, they allow the droneship to maintain a precise position whilst at sea. Elon Musk has previously stated that the droneship is capable of maintaining its target position to within 3 meters, even under storm conditions. The droneship can reportedly maintain its position autonomously, or under remote control by operators on a support ship.

The droneship is fitted with cameras, sensors, and other measuring equipment to allow SpaceX to record and gather data on landings. On several occasions, it has been shown that these cameras can be remotely adjusted and moved during landings to provide a better perspective.

OCISLY arrives at Port Canaveral – SpaceX

Of Course I Still Love You is fitted with multiple satellite antennas, including Starlink dishes, for the uplink of data and for communication with the incoming booster. The droneship is also equipped with remotely-operated firefighting hoses that can quickly deluge the droneship in water in the event of an explosion or fire caused by a failed landing. 

A robot Рofficially the Falcon 9 Securing Robot Рbut universally known as Octagrabber, lives on the droneship and is deployed shortly after a booster landing. The robot is remotely driven from its blast-proof shelter and positioned underneath the Falcon 9. Four arms on the robot can then raise up and latch onto the Falcon 9 octaweb, taking advantage of the low center of gravity of a Falcon 9 rocket with empty fuel tanks, securing the booster for transit.

Although SpaceX is known to be actively working to make its droneship fleet fully autonomous, Of Course I Still Love You droneship is yet to demonstrate autonomy over long distances, instead only using the technology to maintain position during a landing attempt. To reach the downrange landing zones, OCISLY is towed by a charter tugboat from Long Beach. The exact location of the landing zone is dependent on mission requirements and regulatory changes.

Falcon boosters used on Starlink and geostationary transfer orbit missions typically land between 600 Р675 km downrange but the landing zone can extend to over 1200 km for the most demanding missions.

OCISLY and the tugboat will typically leave port up to five days in advance of the launch date, with other accompanying support ships leaving later. After traveling to the landing zone the thrusters and other equipment will be engaged. Support vessels and the tugboat will then retreat to a safe distance to observe the landing. Of Course I Still Love You is uncrewed during all landings.

Once the landing is complete, Octagrabber will be deployed to secure the booster and SpaceX technicians will disengage the thrusters and prepare the droneship for the return journey. The tugboat will then tow OCISLY back to port for unloading of the booster.

West Coast Move

SpaceX repositioned Of Course I Still Love You from Port Canaveral, Florida, to the Port of Long Beach, California in June 2021. From 2015 to 2019, Just Read the Instructions droneship operated on the US West Coast. There was a two-year gap between 2019 and 2021 when SpaceX did not operate a droneship in the Pacific Ocean.

In 2021 SpaceX decided to move OCISLY droneship from Florida to California to support a planned increase in Starlink launches from Vandenberg Space Force Base. OCISLY was replaced in Florida by a new droneship, A Shortfall of Gravitas.

To reposition the droneship as fast as possible, OCISLY was loaded onto heavy-lift vessel Mighty Servant 1 (MS1). To load the droneship MS1 intentionally partially submerged itself underwater, allowing OCISLY to be floated over the top before the combined unit was raised from the water and secured as one.

MS1 carried OCISLY across the Panama Canal to the Port of Long Beach in California where it has operated since mid-2021. 

OCISLY crosses the Panama Canal – Panama Canal

Last Known Location

Track the last known AIS position received from Of Course I Still Love You. When the ship is far offshore, this service will not update regularly. Follow @SpaceOffshore across social media for updates!

Vital Statistics

Operator: SpaceX 

Length: 90 m / 295 ft

Width: 46m / 151 ft

Joined SpaceX Fleet: 2015

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