Of Course I Still Love You

Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) is the east coast autonomous spaceport droneship (ASDS). Based out of Port Canaveral, Florida the droneship is a modified barge outfitted with a large landing platform, station-keeping thrusters and other equipment to allow SpaceX to land boosters at sea on high-velocity missions that don't carry enough fuel to allow for a return-to-launch-site landing.

Construction of OCISLY started in early 2015 and was built as a replacement for the original Just Read The Instructions droneship. The droneship entered service in June 2015.

 

OCISLY is built upon a barge - Marmac 304 - and was modified in a Louisiana shipyard. Modifications include expanded deck wings to increase the size of the landing platform, the installation of 4 thruster engines so the droneship can autonomously maintain its position at sea and also blast shielding to protect electrical and engine equipment on deck.

Capabilities

Of Course I Still Love You is fitted with 4 x 300 horsepower azimuth diesel thruster engines that are fitted to each corner of the landing deck. When deployed, they allow the droneship to station-keep - maintaining a precise position whilst at sea. Elon Musk originally stated that the droneship is capable of maintaining position with 3 metres, even under storm conditions using GPS positioning data and the thruster engines. The droneship can reportedly do this 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 the landings. On a number of occasions, it has been shown that the cameras can be remotely adjusted and moved during landings to provide a better perspective.

Of Course I Still Love You is fitted with 2 antennas allowing for the up-link of data to a satellite and for communication with the incoming booster. A common problem experienced during SpaceX webcasts is the video connection to the droneship cutting out during the landing. This occurs because vibrations created by the landing booster violently shake the droneship, temporarily breaking the connection and up-link to the satellite. This video explains more.

The droneship houses a specialized robot designed to secure the booster to the deck for safe transit back to port after landings. This robot is often referred to as Octagrabber or Optimus Prime. More details can be found here.

OCISLY is equipped with firefighting hoses and equipment to deluge the droneship in water in the event of explosion and fire from a failed landing.

Operation

SpaceX ASDS's are not capable of moving themselves long distances, with the thruster engines only designed to allow the droneship to maintain position. A tug is used to tow the droneship into the correct position offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. The exact position of the droneship is dependant on mission requirements with the current recorded maximum position being 1239km downrange from the launchpad, set during the STP-2, Falcon Heavy, mission in June 2019.

 

OCISLY and its tug will leave Port Canaveral up to 7 days in advance of the launch with other accompanying support ships leaving later. After traveling to the landing zone, OCISLY will be prepared for the landing by having its engine thrusters and other equipment engaged. Once the thruster engines are active and the droneship is capable of maintaining its own position the accompanying tug will release the droneship and retreat to a safe distance along with any other support ships to observe the landing.

Once the landing is complete, Octagrabber will be deployed to secure the booster to the deck. SpaceX technicians will dis-engage the thrusters and prepare the droneship and booster for the return journey. The tug will be reconnected to the droneship and they will tow OCISLY back to Port Canaveral where recovery crews will lift the booster from OCISLY and prepare to transport the booster across to Cape Canaveral for processing.

Missions

 

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