Menu Close

Octagrabber Robot


The Octagrabber robot on OCISLY droneship. The grey mount at the top is a test device – Julia Bergeron

The Falcon 9 securing robot, universally referred to as Octagrabber, is the name given to a series of robots that operate on SpaceX’s droneships to remotely secure Falcon 9 boosters upon landing offshore.

After a booster landing, Octagrabber is remotely driven out of its blast-protected garage on the droneship and positioned underneath the booster. It uses four arms that then raise up and attach to the base of the Falcon 9- known as the octa web, from where the robot takes its name.

Octagrabber deployed on OCISLY droneship – SpaceX

The Falcon 9 booster has a very low center of gravity after a flight as the rocket is primarily made up of propellant tanks which drained during the mission. This means the bulk of the remaining weight is on the engine section – the octa web – at the base. The Octagrabber robot latches onto this, securing the Falcon 9 for transportation.

Recovery teams still have to board the droneship to perform other post-landing tasks but the robot allows for a safer and more efficient recovery process.

The Octagrabber supporting Falcon 9 booster B1058 entirely on its own – Kyle Montgomery.

Before the Octagrabber robot was used, recovery crews would have to board the droneship after a launch and manually secure the booster. To do this, four support stands are placed underneath the booster and mounting points are welded to the deck of the droneship. Chains are then connected between the two and tightened, securing the booster.

This method is still used as a backup system in the event that Octagrabber cannot be used.

The original method for securing boosters was to use stands and chains – Pauline Acalin