Elon Musk already has a small fleet of ocean-going landing drones and also uses vessels in his attempt to collect his Falcon rocket fairings. Now Jeff Bezos is doing the same, and has bought a cargo vessel which will act as a landing stage for his Blue Origin rockets.
Currently based at the port of Pensacola on the Florida panhandle Bezos’s technicians are converting a giant 600 ft-long cargo ship, says WUWF, the National Public Radio station for the region.
The station quoted Port Director Amy Miller saying: “This ship will be out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and the recoverable portion of the rocket will land on the ship – unlike the old days, when they used to crash into the ocean and a Navy ship would go recover them,” said Miller. “Somebody with a joystick is manoeuvring those things and they can literally land on a dime,” added Miller.
Assuming a successful landing the cargo ship will then return to Pensacola to discharge the rocket and make any repairs necessary to the ship’s deck.
Engineers working on the vessel say they have removed a million pounds of steel from the vessel and will now rebuild and strengthen the deck in order to be as flat as possible.