ABS, SpaceX Sign JDP on Remotely Controlled Rocket Recovery Droneships


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ABS has signed a joint development project (JDP) with SpaceX to review the remotely controlled functions of autonomous rocket recovery droneships used for booster rocket recovery at sea.

The rocket recovery droneships are modified to include an expanded deck to increase the size of the landing platform, four thruster engines for propulsion and to hold on station, and blast shielding to protect electrical and engine equipment on deck. The droneships are entirely unmanned during landings, with a robot deployed on board to secure the rocket booster to the droneship before the vessel returns to port.

The project will review the design of one of SpaceX’s three rocket recovery droneships for compliance with the ABS Guide for Autonomous and Remote-Control Functions. Due to the unique and challenging operating requirements, ABS will apply a risk-based approach to the evaluation of the autonomous functions.

“Through our work on autonomous and remote-control technologies in projects with leading partners all over the world, ABS has been leading the way in supporting its practical application at sea. This makes us ideally placed to work with SpaceX on its unique and exciting project. We are proud that our capabilities in this area have been recognized by a true pioneer such as SpaceX,” said Patrick Ryan, ABS Senior Vice President, Global Engineering and Technology. 

ABS is a world leader in supporting the development of autonomous and remote-control functions at sea. A remotely operated harbor tug developed by Keppel Offshore & Marine was the first in the world to receive the ABS REMOTE-CON Notation in October 2021.

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