CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A new SpaceX drone ship currently under construction will help the company handle increased launch operations and likely call the Space Coast home, CEO Elon Musk said Monday.
The company's third ship, named A Shortfall of Gravitas, will join Of Course I Still Love You for East Coast booster landing operations, Musk said via Twitter in response to FLORIDA TODAY. The latter is based at Port Canaveral and returns Falcon 9 boosters to facilities near the port for post-launch checkouts.
Musk also confirmed that for Falcon Heavy missions, the rocket's two side boosters will not always return to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station like they did during last week's premiere launch. In some cases involving tight fuel margins and heavy satellites, having two ships based on the Space Coast will mean both sail out at the same time and play host to tandem ocean landings.
SpaceX operates its third ship, named Just Read the Instructions, on the West Coast for launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base. All three are named after spacecraft featured in Scottish author Iain M. Banks' "Culture" novels.
Photos: SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy rocket, sticks 2 landings
Of Course I Still Love You, though, was damaged during the first Falcon Heavy mission that took flight from Kennedy Space Center – the rocket's center core missed the ship by about 300 feet, but the force of its 300 mph water impact was enough to "take out" two engines on the ship.
"Not enough ignition fluid to light the outer two engines after several three engine relights," Musk also said Monday on the center core's landing failure. "Fix is pretty obvious."
SpaceX teams at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, meanwhile, are targeting no earlier than 12:35 a.m. on Feb. 22 for the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 40. Hispasat 30W-6, a commercial communications satellite, will be boosted to a geostationary transfer orbit.
How to keep track of the red Tesla launched into space:
As for Starman and his red Tesla, there's a cool way to keep tabs on the Tesla by checking out this website.
According to this website, right now the Tesla is moving away from earth at a speed of 68-hundred miles an hour. It's more than 1 million 400 thousand miles away from earth.
This website is run by a self-described Space nerd named Ben Pearson. Pearsons uses data from Jet Propulsion Lab's Horizons Systems.
That Horizons database is run by NASA and keeps tabs on planets, comets, moons, and about 150 man-made objects in our solar system.