SpaceX’s ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas’ Droneship Starts Sea-Trials, Doesn’t Require Tug Boat

Image: @elonmusk on Twitter

On Friday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk shared aerial footage of the company’s newest autonomous spaceport droneship, A Shortfall of Gravitas (ASOG), finally taking to the sea in its very first sea-trial outside Port Fourchon.

When asked if ASOG is fully automated and can operate without the need for a tug boat helping it navigate the waters, Musk confirmed that the vessel is indeed fully autonomous, and won’t require a tug boat to maneuver in the sea.

Keen eyes will be able to spot a Starlink terminal — or Dishy McFlatface, as it is so lovingly named, installed on ASOG. The terminal was put in around the same time the droneship got its deck extension.

SpaceX’s plans to take Starlink mobile are specifically meant for ships, airplanes, and other large vehicles, but while SpaceX waits on approval and deals with other entities to install terminals on their vessels, there’s no harm in getting high-speed Starlink internet to its own droneships.

Once it passes its sea-trials, ASOG will be joining Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) and Just Read the Instructions (JRTI) in SpaceX’s fleet of spaceport droneships.

SpaceX lands boosters and first-stage rockets on these autonomous vessels, rather than on land, to conserve fuel, lower the cost of each launch, and increase payload to orbit.

OCISLY is currently tasked with supporting missions on the west coast. Once green-lit, a Shortfall of Gravitas will be making its way to Florida to join JRTI in supporting Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy missions launching from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.