Space community waits for return of OCISLY with SpaceX’s CRS-8 Falcon 9
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Ever since Space Exploration Technologies’ (SpaceX) carried out the first completely successful landing of its Falcon 9 FT rocket’s first stage on the Of Course I Still Love You Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) positioned out in the Atlantic Ocean, the space community, in particular, and the public, in general, have been waiting for the triumphant return to port of the unique vehicle.
Information, however, has been scant about when exactly the automated vessel and its precious cargo would be pulling into port. Tracking sites have shown that it has meandered out in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida’s Space Coast since this past Friday.
Estimations on when the craft will arrive at Port Canaveral have varied wildly – times ranging anywhere between 24 to 36 hours from the present (1 p.m. EDT on Monday, April 11, 2016) have been submitted on message boards on Redditt and elsewhere.
SpaceX began using the ASDS in early 2015 to test out the concept of recovering the first stage of the Hawthorne, California-based company’s Falcon 9 boosters.
Given the requirements that these rockets incur when sending payloads to orbital destinations, the most feasible landing site is on a ship positioned out in either the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans. Missions that require a satellite to be placed into a geostationary orbit or a spacecraft in an escape velocity trajectory would require an ASDS landing.
So far, a total of three of the ships have been refitted to serve SpaceX’s recovery efforts. Owing to the company’s sense of humor and disdain for acronyms, the ASDSs have been dubbed Just Read the Instructions (JRtI) and Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY). SpaceX CEO and Founder Elon Musk noted that these vessels are no longer barges during an April 8 news conference.
SpaceX first used an ASDS for its intended purpose during the January 2015 CRS-5 mission. The next cargo run to the International Space Station that the company carried out, CRS-6, ended with similar results due to an excess lateral velocity that the Falcon 9 had incurred upon approach to the ocean-based platform.
Meanwhile, the original JRtI was retired in June of 2015; the third ASDS was given that name before it traveled to the Port of Los Angeles from Louisiana via the Panama Canal.
It is hoped that once SpaceX has repeatedly demonstrated this capability, the first stages of these rockets can be refurbished and used on future flights – significantly reducing the cost to send payloads to orbit and changing the spaceflight paradigm.
Video courtesy of SpaceFlight Insider
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.