Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, was not provoked on October 9, tweeting "A Shortfall of Gravitas" – the name of a third drone ship set a year and a half ago – and confirming plans to build a third missile Mining vessel are still in progress.
This is the first update on SpaceX's newest drone ship in more than a year. Just months after the drone ship Just Read The Instructions (JRTI) – formerly based in California – was sent east across the Panama Canal. The news that a lack of Gravitas (ASOG) is still in the works raises the question: What is the backlog and what role (s) will the new drone ship play in the SpaceX missile recovery fleet?
Already in July 201
So it's not clear anymore if SpaceX actually needs ASOG, at least as described last year. When SpaceX relocates JRTI indefinitely eastward, OCISLY and JRTI could easily support the Falcon 9 launch rates required to restore Starlink and dual-Falcon heavy-side boosters, though Falcon Heavy will not fly until the end of 2020.
This leaves an obvious option to explain ASOG's continued existence and its delayed debut: SpaceX may have interrupted work for various reasons and changed the design of ASOG to accommodate a new role in the recovery fleet. This new role is likely to focus on the extremely rapid progress that SpaceX is making with Starship, as it is conducting a series of ambitious flight tests that could begin before the end of 2019.
Remarkably, an August 219 Environmental Assessment (EA) draft from East Coast Starship found that SpaceX originally planned to land all super heavy boosters on a drone ship a few miles off the coast of Florida is stationed. The spacecraft may also require the drone ship landing at an early stage, at least until SpaceX is able to complete the environmental review and approval process before landing on Spaceship / Super Heavy on Pad 39A and Landing Areas 1 and 2 can.
For the time being, we'll have to wait and see where the drone ship JRTI goes after his break in Louisiana, and hopefully find out soon whether ASOG is a copy of a drone ship or something else, on-site prospects and unique insights SpaceX Rocket Launch and Recovery Processes .