Megan (Previously named GO Searcher) is a Dragon recovery ship used by SpaceX. The vessel is one of two ships configured to recover the capsule after splashdown at the end of a mission or during certain abort scenarios. Megan has been a part of the SpaceX recovery fleet since 2016.
Megan was renamed from GO Searcher in February 2022 when the vessel was sold to SpaceX by previous owner/operator Guice Offshore (GO). The name is in honor of NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, the second female astronaut that SpaceX flew.
Owner: SpaceX (Previously Guice Offshore)
Year Built: 2010
Joined SpaceX Fleet: 2016
Megan has been preparing for Dragon recovery operations since early 2018, completing countless hours of training and upgrade works. The vessel had a starring role during the first flight of Crew Dragon, recovering the capsule from the Atlantic Ocean after its week-long stay at the International Space Station.
The vessel recovered Crew Dragon for a second time during the In-Flight Abort test mission, where SpaceX purposefully destroyed a booster to test that Dragon’s escape system worked as designed.
During summer 2018, SpaceX upgraded the vessel for Dragon recovery operations. Megan boasts a medical treatment facility, helipad, and extensive communication radars. A large lifting crane is installed on the stern of the vessel to lift the capsule from the water.
Following splashdown of the capsule, recovery teams in small fast-approach boats connect lines between Megan and Dragon, and then the capsule is carefully lifted from the water. Astronauts would then egress from the capsule once it is secured on the deck of Megan. NASA requires SpaceX to egress astronauts from Dragon within 60 minutes of splashdown.
When splashdown occurs offshore near Cape Canaveral, astronauts will be recovered and travel back to Port Canaveral on board the recovery ship. In the event of a medical emergency or a splashdown elsewhere, a helicopter will land and transport the astronauts back to land. SpaceX completed a demonstration of a helicopter evacuation for NASA in fall 2018.
Megan first recovered a Dragon with humans onboard on September 18th, 2021, during the Inspiration4 mission.
Between April and May 2019 the ship was temporarily re-assigned to fairing recovery operations. Alongside Shannon, the ship was fitted with inflatables and sent to retrieve the fairings during the ArabSat-6A and Starlink 0.9 missions. The ship was successful on both occasions and delivered an intact fairing half back to Port Canaveral upon the conclusion of both missions.