Author Topic: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3  (Read 718196 times)

Offline Kabloona

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1080 on: 06/09/2016 04:47 PM »
I wonder if we're getting related issues confused in our game of telephone here.  What if SpaceX wanted to do a "major" refit of their fleet, that would require a dry dock for inspection *after the modifications were made*.  Then we'd hear roughly the same story: barge owners looking for a dry dock to enable coast guard inspection (...after modifications).

I can tell you categorically this is coming from USCG, not SpaceX.

Elon must be fuming. If they have to splash just one stage while the ASDSes are in drydock, that's throwing away a $20M asset, depending on your accounting math...just when they've figured out how to make the ASDS landings work and are speeding up launch tempos.

The timing stinks, but maybe they can schedule the OCISLY drydock inspection for the period around an RTLS mission and try not to miss any GTO sea landings.
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 05:08 PM by Kabloona »

Offline gospacex

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1081 on: 06/09/2016 05:23 PM »
Quote
Could the inspection be done by divers?

Negative, must be drydocked.

Imaginary tweet from Elon: "@USCG, WTF???"

You can see the bottom of Marmac 300 hull without drydocking:

http://www.dredgemag.com/March-April-2003/Titan-Lifts-4000-ton-Wreck/

"The 300’ x 90’ barge Marmac-300 was partially submerged, with the bow of the barge placed in the trench, and the wreck was pulled onto the inclined barge using Titan Linear Chain Pullers."

Offline cscott

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1082 on: 06/09/2016 05:24 PM »
I wonder if we're getting related issues confused in our game of telephone here.  What if SpaceX wanted to do a "major" refit of their fleet, that would require a dry dock for inspection *after the modifications were made*.  Then we'd hear roughly the same story: barge owners looking for a dry dock to enable coast guard inspection (...after modifications).

I can tell you categorically this is coming from USCG, not SpaceX.

Elon must be fuming. If they have to splash just one stage while the ASDSes are in drydock, that's throwing away a $20M asset, depending on your accounting math...just when they've figured out how to make the ASDS landings work and are speeding up launch tempos.

The timing stinks, but maybe they can schedule the OCISLY drydock inspection for the period around an RTLS mission and try not to miss any GTO sea landings.
You edited away my EDIT section.  It seems clear to me now that this is a normal and expected 2.5yr service-in-saltwater requirement.  Hard to see how Elon would be "fuming" about something everyone has known all along.

I'm sure the logistics are still very challenging for all involved, especially with uncertainties about the Panama Canal new lock opening dates and the ever-shifting SpaceX launch schedule.  Challenging, yes.  *Surprising*, no.

Offline dorkmo

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1083 on: 06/09/2016 05:34 PM »
heres some information i found a while back. sounds like the coast gaurd is wanting to define the asds as something other than a barge.

found something

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/12/14/2011-32007/seagoing-barges

"In 1993, Congress exempted from inspection seagoing barges that are unmanned and not carrying hazardous material as cargo, or carrying a flammable or combustible liquid, including oil, in bulk."

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2014-title46/html/USCODE-2014-title46-subtitleII-partB-chap33-sec3302.htm

"(m) A seagoing barge is not subject to inspection under section 3301(6) of this title if the vessel is unmanned and does not carry—
(1) a hazardous material as cargo; or
(2) a flammable or combustible liquid, including oil, in bulk."

not a lawyer so not sure if this actually covers what it sounds like

Offline guckyfan

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1084 on: 06/09/2016 05:40 PM »
If this is a routine inspection, then why is the owner scrambling to find a dry dock? They should be prepared, or is it a case of as we call it "Christmas comes always as a surprise"?

Offline mattrog

heres some information i found a while back. sounds like the coast gaurd is wanting to define the asds as something other than a barge.

found something

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/12/14/2011-32007/seagoing-barges

"In 1993, Congress exempted from inspection seagoing barges that are unmanned and not carrying hazardous material as cargo, or carrying a flammable or combustible liquid, including oil, in bulk."

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2014-title46/html/USCODE-2014-title46-subtitleII-partB-chap33-sec3302.htm

"(m) A seagoing barge is not subject to inspection under section 3301(6) of this title if the vessel is unmanned and does not carry—
(1) a hazardous material as cargo; or
(2) a flammable or combustible liquid, including oil, in bulk."

not a lawyer so not sure if this actually covers what it sounds like
Elon has been pushing for people to not call them barges but drone ships ... what if they are officially being reclassified as "ships" ?

Could a drydock inspection be a precursor to a full reclassification? Coast guard being extra careful as they have essentially built a new ship on the water?

How often are sea going ships subject to a drydock inspection... ?

Offline cscott

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1086 on: 06/09/2016 05:54 PM »


How often are sea going ships subject to a drydock inspection... ?

Every 2.5 or 5 years, depending on the type.

Offline cscott

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1087 on: 06/09/2016 06:00 PM »
If this is a routine inspection, then why is the owner scrambling to find a dry dock? They should be prepared, or is it a case of as we call it "Christmas comes always as a surprise"?
Both seem equally plausible to me: A) "Christmas comes as a surprise", especially in the current phase of operations where the east coast ASDS suddenly has basically no downtime between missions; or B) some disagreement based on how the ship is classified or the wording of the federal exemption moving the ship into a different inspection schedule.  But even option B should be an *inconvenience* but not a total *surprise*, given that even us here at NSF have been discussing for some time the grey area of classification which the ASDS falls into.  Surely experienced ship operators would know the possibilities, even if they've been lobbying for a particular preference.

Offline Kabloona

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1088 on: 06/09/2016 06:02 PM »
I wonder if we're getting related issues confused in our game of telephone here.  What if SpaceX wanted to do a "major" refit of their fleet, that would require a dry dock for inspection *after the modifications were made*.  Then we'd hear roughly the same story: barge owners looking for a dry dock to enable coast guard inspection (...after modifications).

I can tell you categorically this is coming from USCG, not SpaceX.

Elon must be fuming. If they have to splash just one stage while the ASDSes are in drydock, that's throwing away a $20M asset, depending on your accounting math...just when they've figured out how to make the ASDS landings work and are speeding up launch tempos.

The timing stinks, but maybe they can schedule the OCISLY drydock inspection for the period around an RTLS mission and try not to miss any GTO sea landings.
You edited away my EDIT section.  It seems clear to me now that this is a normal and expected 2.5yr service-in-saltwater requirement.  Hard to see how Elon would be "fuming" about something everyone has known all along.

I'm sure the logistics are still very challenging for all involved, especially with uncertainties about the Panama Canal new lock opening dates and the ever-shifting SpaceX launch schedule.  Challenging, yes.  *Surprising*, no.

I don't have all the details but it sounds unexpected, and that's all I can say right now. It appears to be related to after-the-fact permitting rather than regular inspection, as though the Coast Guard missed something in the permitting process the first time around, and maybe now they're having to go back and double-check things to verify the ASDSes are in fact meeting whatever the requirements are for their particular permits.

Whatever the case, it does not sound like a "business as usual" routine inspection. That's why I imagined Elon might be upset.
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 06:09 PM by Kabloona »

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1089 on: 06/09/2016 06:08 PM »
I wonder if we're getting related issues confused in our game of telephone here.  What if SpaceX wanted to do a "major" refit of their fleet, that would require a dry dock for inspection *after the modifications were made*.  Then we'd hear roughly the same story: barge owners looking for a dry dock to enable coast guard inspection (...after modifications).

I can tell you categorically this is coming from USCG, not SpaceX.

Elon must be fuming. If they have to splash just one stage while the ASDSes are in drydock, that's throwing away a $20M asset, depending on your accounting math...just when they've figured out how to make the ASDS landings work and are speeding up launch tempos.

The timing stinks, but maybe they can schedule the OCISLY drydock inspection for the period around an RTLS mission and try not to miss any GTO sea landings.

Well, they can always get a fleet of lawyers deployed to postpone the event for as long as possible, and in that time put together one or two more ASDSes from whatever available barges they can find.

It sounds like JRtI may be in stand-down mode for long enough at a time that Vandenberg ops may not need to be impacted, but with OCISLY being needed once a month or more, I can see no way, even with an east coast drydock, to accomplish such an inspection without forcing the splash of at least one stage.  Burns one's butt (and makes one incredibly suspicious), though, to think that USCG decided to let JRtI sit for months and months, and then issue some kind of immediate inspection decree seemingly timed solely to prevent its use in upcoming flights -- when an inspection could easily have been done anytime since February with zero impact to SpaceX operations.

If SpaceX can put off USCG for six months, they can find a good timeframe to get JRtI up to Oregon and back without impacting operations, and more importantly rent another barge and set it up as another east coast ASDS in that timeframe.  Heck, they'll likely need to do the latter at some point in the next year anyway; this is just forcing SpaceX's hand a bit.

I can understand that USCG has its processes and such.  But, first off, if this is a common, "hey, you need to be inspected every n years", I also know that there are processes in place that inform the owner/user of the requirement well in advance of any hard deadlines.

If USCG is bypassing all of the preliminaries, and the first notification was indeed the threat to immediately ground the ASDSes until they perform drydock inspections, that speaks to an urgency that is not normally applied to such inspections.  If SpaceX is indeed being singled out for such urgency, and said urgency is being applied from someone's political seat in order to harm SpaceX and benefit, say, another launch provider in that political seat's district, then that's abuse of power and cause for impeachment.  Plain and simple.

So, the area in which we are ignorant, and (as always) are forced to speculate, is whether or not SpaceX had been made aware of the drydock inspection requirement before now, and whether, if these are nominally required inspections that all vessels must go through, SpaceX has actually been "ambushed" by a sudden requirement that seems targeted at damaging their business operations, or not.

Consider it's always possible that the actual owners of the barges have been presented with appropriate paperwork asking for the scheduling of such inspections for a while, and have not properly transmitted the information to the company to which they are leasing the barges -- i.e., SpaceX.  There is obviously either a disconnect or an inappropriate application of urgency around these inspections, but we ought not just assume wrongdoing when there are other channels that could have broken down and resulted in what appears to be an inappropriate set of requests.

The worst possible breakdown would be one within SpaceX itself, with the people in the department that manages the barge leases not talking properly to the legal team that tracks all permissions and permission requests, inspection requests, etc., etc.  I would hope this isn't the case, but hey, we don't have enough info to rule it out, do we?

Complicated tangle of possibilities, here.  The cat's been at the yarn with this one; we'll need to keep a very close eye on it.
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline cscott

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1090 on: 06/09/2016 06:09 PM »
Here's something else:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/46/2101
Quote
(32)
“seagoing barge” means a non-self-propelled vessel of at least 100 gross tons as measured under section 14502 of this title, or an alternate tonnage measured under section 14302 of this title as prescribed by the Secretary undersection 14104 of this title making voyages beyond the Boundary Line.

Elon has always very clearly stated the vessel is a ship, not a barge, based on this definition ("self-propelled").  Therefore the ASDS does not fall under the exemption from inspection for sea-going barges:



https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2014-title46/html/USCODE-2014-title46-subtitleII-partB-chap33-sec3302.htm

"(m) A seagoing barge is not subject to inspection under section 3301(6) of this title if the vessel is unmanned and does not carry—
(1) a hazardous material as cargo; or
(2) a flammable or combustible liquid, including oil, in bulk."


It's possible that Elon, the USCG, and McDonough Marine had a little disagreement about this, but the USCG is now seeing things Elon's way.  Perhaps the scramble is because McDonough Marine still had the vessel listed in their files as a "sea-going barge" and didn't realize they needed to get it inspected (or didn't get the right inspection deadline notices from the USCG because the USCG still had it listed as a sea-going barge).

EDIT: I can actually see Elon "fuming" about this: "Guys!  In absolutely every public appearance I've been saying this is a *ship* not a *barge*.  How did you have it still listed as a barge?  It's a ship! Ship! Ship! Autonomous Spaceport Drone *Ship*! Not a barge!". ;)
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 06:16 PM by cscott »

Offline Kabloona

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1091 on: 06/09/2016 06:21 PM »
Quote
Elon has always very clearly stated the vessel is a ship, not a barge, based on this definition ("self-propelled").  Therefore the ASDS does not fall under the sea-going barge exemption from inspection.

That's Elon's understandable public PR preference not to call the ASDS a "barge."

In private with the Coast Guard I expect he's happy to call it whatever will allow them to be exempt from inspection, if that is possible. He can't be choosing to spend the time, money, and potentially lost stages just so he can call it a "ship" on Coast Guard paperwork.

Maybe your reclassification idea is correct, though, in reverse, that it's the Coast Guard, not Elon, who wants to reclassify it/them as a ship, with the resulting inspection requirements.

OTOH, it's not clear to me that even as a sea-going barge it was ever exempt from the routine inspection requirement, because it could be interpreted as carrying "hazardous material as cargo" (FTS ordnance, TEA/TEB residuals). We've seen NOTAMS posted for hazardous ops (unloading "missiles" at the OCISLY wharf) which suggests that at least the FAA considers a returned stage to be "hazardous."

Whatever is going on, the info from my source does not sound like routine scheduled inspections.
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 06:31 PM by Kabloona »

Offline cscott

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1092 on: 06/09/2016 06:37 PM »
More details on the sea-going barge exemption: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-01-09/pdf/2012-30984.pdf

The term *self-propelled* is quite broadly defined; see https://www.uscg.mil/hq/msc/tonnage/docs/nvic_11-93_CH-3.pdf ("any vessel with means of self-propulsion, including sails").

On review it seems clear to me that Elon has been correct and the vessel ceased to be exempt as a barge as soon as it was fitted with "means of self-propulsion", even if it was often towed in practice.

I'm leaning towards the "Christmas is always a surprise" explanation.  It's clear that the ASDS is not exempt, and there's a regular scheduled drydock inspection requirement.  Clearly not everyone was expecting it or prepared in advance, however.
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 06:42 PM by cscott »

Offline CJ

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1093 on: 06/09/2016 06:41 PM »
Any guesses as to whether this inspection mess will impact the next ASDS sortie, which should be just hours away?


Offline Kabloona

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1094 on: 06/09/2016 06:56 PM »
Any guesses as to whether this inspection mess will impact the next ASDS sortie, which should be just hours away?

It shouldn't, since they haven't even found an East Coast drydock yet.

Offline cscott

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1095 on: 06/09/2016 06:56 PM »
I don't know the exact classification of the ASDS.  Guessing a bit, I come up with https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/46/91.40-3, where the requirement for " single hulled ships" in saltwater is 2.5 years and "Where Table 91.40-3(a) indicates a 2.5 year examination interval, it means a vessel must undergo two examinations within any five year period. No more than three years may elapse between any two examinations."

IIRC someone managed to pull up the inspection and classification history of the MARMACs before.  Based on the last drydocking and the "no more than 3 years" requirement we could figure out the exact new inspection deadline.

But I can approximate.

MARMAC 303/OCISLY was launched in May 2013 according to http://www.mcdonoughmarine.com/recent-news.html.  Assuming it had its first dry dock inspection in that month, OCISLY is now ~1 month past due. (Which would explain the scurry.)

MARMAC 304 was launched in August 2013, so it might have a month or so of grace left. (Which explains why they are not as frantic about west coast dry docks.)

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/46/91.01-20 gives you 30 days grace period if you're already at sea.  https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/46/91.01-15 also provides for a temporary certificate "to prevent delay of vessel"; I'd expect that's what SpaceX is currently operating under (or is scrambling to obtain).

FWIW what I read about conversions between classes of ship seemed to indicate that the inspection schedule always applies from the time the ship was first certified with its original type.  That is, the clock started when the barge was built, not on the day (a few years later) when the barge became a ship. I'm not as certain about this, I didn't find the exact clause for the ASDS, but that seemed to be the pattern for other classification types.

EDIT: I got MARMAC 303 and MARMAC 304 switched; see ClayJar's correction below.
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 08:39 PM by cscott »

Offline Kabloona

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1096 on: 06/09/2016 07:05 PM »
Quote
MARMAC 304 was launched in August 2013, so it might have a few months of grace left. (Which explains why they are not as frantic about west coast dry docks.)

Just for the record, my source did not say anything about relative levels of franticness.  ;)

However, we might assume the East Coast situation is of more concern to SpaceX since OCISLY should be busier than JRtI in the coming months.
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 07:07 PM by Kabloona »

Offline ClayJar

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1097 on: 06/09/2016 08:00 PM »
MARMAC 303/OCISLY was launched in May 2013 according to http://www.mcdonoughmarine.com/recent-news.html.  Assuming it had its first dry dock inspection in that month, OCISLY is now ~1 month past due. (Which would explain the scurry.)

MARMAC 304 was launched in August 2013, so it might have a month or so of grace left. (Which explains why they are not as frantic about west coast dry docks.)

The east coast ASDS OCISLY is MARMAC 304.  The west coast ASDS JRtI (reincarnated) is MARMAC 303.

Offline cscott

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1098 on: 06/09/2016 08:22 PM »
Oh, good catch ClayJar!  I was basing my post above on https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2015/06/spacex-augments-upgrades-drone-ship-armada/ but I forgot that we all got fooled by that naming.  You're right.  In that case, I'd expect JRtI on the west coast to have already visited or be visiting a dry dock real soon now... but OCISLY here should have until August for its inspection.  That would answer CJ's question (and let us all breathe a little sigh of short-term relief).
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 08:24 PM by cscott »

Offline CJ

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1099 on: 06/09/2016 10:05 PM »
According to ABS records, JRTI (Marmac 303) has a drydock survey due date of June 10th, 2016
https://www.eagle.org/safenet/record/record_vesselclassurveystatus?ReferrerApplication=PUBLIC&Service=1

For OCISLY (Marmac 304) the due date for the drydock survey is September 15th, 2016
https://www.eagle.org/safenet/record/record_vesselclassurveystatus?ReferrerApplication=PUBLIC&Service=1

IMHO, both of those dates are uncomfortably close, but worse for JRTI (tomorrow!).


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