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Megan arrives at Port Canaveral with a Dragon capsule – Jenny Hautmann

Megan (Previously named GO Searcher) is a SpaceX Dragon recovery vessel based at Port Canaveral, Florida. Alongside identical twin ship Shannon, both vessels are designed for Dragon capsule recovery operations. Megan is named after Megan McArthur, the second female NASA astronaut to fly on SpaceX’s Dragon capsule.

Starting out with SpaceX in 2016 as a fairing recovery / operational support vessel, Megan transitioned over to Dragon capsule recovery in 2018 as SpaceX focused on developing the  Commerical Crew program under contract with NASA. Following a drydock and maintenance period during mid-2018, Megan was built out for the role with the addition of a medical treatment facility, helipad, and extensive communication radars. A large lifting crane is installed on the stern of the vessel to lift the capsule from the water.

Megan has been preparing for Dragon recovery operations since early 2018, completing countless hours of training and upgrade work. The vessel had a starring role during the first flight of Crew Dragon, recovering the capsule from the Atlantic Ocean after its week-long stay at the International Space Station.

The vessel recovered Crew Dragon for a second time during the In-Flight Abort test mission, where SpaceX purposefully destroyed a booster to test that Dragon’s escape system worked as designed.

Since conversion for the role, Megan and twin ship Shannon both continue to take part in extensive training and rehearsals in advance of any Dragon mission. Before the first few Dragon flights, SpaceX completed countless hours of preparation with the vessels.

Medical evacuation training demonstration – NASA

Following the splashdown of a Dragon capsule, recovery teams in small fast-approach boats connect lines, deployed from Megan, will start to work around Dragon. First checking for safety checks for the presence of hypergolics and crew welfare. Once those checks are complete the capsule is rigged to allow it to be hoisted onto Megan. NASA requires SpaceX to egress astronauts from Dragon within 60 minutes of splashdown. Whilst the Dragon recovery operation is ongoing, other fast boats work to collect up the parachutes from the ocean surface and haul those onboard.

Megan recovers Crew Dragon following the Inspiration-4 mission – SpaceX

Once Dragon has been raised onto the recovery ship, astronauts are helped to exit the capsule and taken to the onboard medical facility for checkouts. A helicopter will then land on the vessel to take them back to land. For Cargo Dragon operations, a helicopter is also used to take time-sensitive cargo back to Kennedy Space Centre as fast as possible. 

Megan first recovered a Dragon with humans onboard on September 18th, 2021, during the Inspiration4 mission.

Megan at sea – NASA

Fairing Recovery

When required, Megan has occasionally gap-filled the role of fairing recovery. The vessel is designed to be able to fit a single Falcon 9 fairing half onboard, in the typical Dragon egress area.

Notably, between April and May 2019, the vessel was temporarily re-assigned to fairing recovery operations. Alongside Shannon, the vessel was fitted with inflatables and sent to retrieve the fairings during the ArabSat-6A and Starlink 0.9 missions. Megan was successful on both occasions and delivered an intact fairing half back to Port Canaveral upon the conclusion of both missions.

Fairing half recovered by Megan – SpaceX

Last Known Location

Track the last known AIS position received from Megan. When the ship is far offshore, this service will not update regularly. Follow @SpaceOffshore across social media for updates!

Vital Statistics

Owner: SpaceX

Operator: SpaceX

Year Built: 2010

IMO: 9591648

Length: 52m / 170 ft

Breadth: 11m / 36 ft

Joined SpaceX Fleet: 2016

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