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Of Course I Still Love You

Of Course I Still Love You berthing at Port Canaveral with a Falcon 9 booster - SpaceX

Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) is an autonomous spaceport droneship (ASDS) that is operated out of the Port of Long Beach, California. Of Course I Still Love You was previously based in Florida from 2015 to 2021.

The droneship is a modified barge that is outfitted with a large landing platform, station-keeping thrusters, and other equipment to allow SpaceX to land boosters at sea on high-velocity missions that cannot carry enough fuel to allow for a return-to-launch-site landing.

Construction of OCISLY started in early 2015 and was built as a replacement for the original experimental droneship, Just Read The Instructions. The droneship entered service in June 2015.

OCISLY is built upon a barge – Marmac 304 – and was modified in a Louisiana shipyard. Modifications include an expanded deck to increase the size of the landing platform, the installation of 4 thruster engines so the droneship can autonomously maintain its position at sea, and blast shielding to protect electrical and engine equipment on deck.

OCISLY stern, showing generators, thrusters and other equipment - Julia Bergeron

Of Course I Still Love You is equipped with for azimuth thrusters that are fitted to each corner of the landing platform. When deployed, they allow the droneship to maintain a precise position whilst at sea. Elon Musk has stated that the droneship is capable of maintaining its target position to within 3 meters, even under storm conditions. The droneship can reportedly maintain its target position autonomously, or under remote control by operators on a support ship.

The droneship is fitted with cameras, sensors and other measuring equipment to allow SpaceX to record and gather data on the landings. On a number of occasions, it has been shown that the cameras can be remotely adjusted and moved during landings to provide a better perspective.

OCISLY arrives at Port Canaveral - SpaceX

Of Course I Still Love You is fitted with two satellite antennas for the uplink of data and for communication with the incoming booster. A common problem experienced during SpaceX webcasts is the video connection to the droneship cutting out during the landing. This occurs because vibrations created by the landing booster violently shake the droneship, temporarily breaking the connection and up-link to the satellite. This video explains more.

A robot, officially named the Falcon 9 Securing Robot, but universally known as Octagrabber lives on the droneship and is deployed shortly after a booster landing. The robot is remotely driven from its blast-proof shelter and positioned underneath the Falcon 9. Four arms then raise up and latch onto the Falcon 9 octaweb, securing the booster for transit.

OCISLY is equipped with remotely-operated firefighting hoses that can quickly deluge the droneship in water in the event of an explosion or fire caused by a failed landing.

OCISLY crosses the Panama Canal - Panama Canal

SpaceX droneships are not designed to autonomously move themselves over long distances. Instead, a tugboat is used to tow the droneship to the target position offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. The exact position of the droneship is dependant on mission requirements.

Boosters used on Starlink and geostationary transfer orbit missions typically land between 600 – 675 km downrange. The furthest droneship position was 1239 km downrange, set during the STP-2 Falcon Heavy mission in June 2019.

OCISLY and the tugboat will leave port up to 7 days in advance of the launch date, with other accompanying support ships leaving later. After traveling to the landing zone the thrusters and other equipment will be engaged. Support vessels and the tugboat will then retreat to a safe distance to observe the landing. Of Course I Still Love You is unmanned during all landings.

Once the landing is complete, Octagrabber will be deployed to secure the booster and SpaceX technicians will dis-engage the thrusters and prepare the droneship for the return journey. The tugboat will then tow OCISLY back to port.

West Coast Move

SpaceX repositioned Of Course I Still Love You from Port Canaveral, Florida, to the Port of Long Beach, California in June 2021.

Just Read the Instructions droneship was previously based in California until mid-2019 but was repositioned to Florida as launched out of Vandenberg slowed down. This meant that SpaceX no longer had a dronship to support Pacific Ocean operations. 

SpaceX then seemed to switch plans and reactivated the Vandeberg launch site to support the Starlink constellation. SpaceX chose to move OCISLY to the Pacific Ocean and replaced it with A Shortfall of Gravitas on the East Coast.

OCISLY droneship was loaded onto heavy-lift ship Mighty Servant 1 in the Bahamas and carried all the way through the Panama Canal to Long Beach where it was unloaded.