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Shannon with a Dragon training mockup - Tom McCool

Shannon (Previously named GO Navigator) is a SpaceX Dragon recovery vessel based at Port Canaveral, Florida. Alongside identical twin ship Megan, both vessels are designed for Dragon capsule recovery operations. Shannon is named after Shannon Walker, the first female NASA astronaut to fly on SpaceX’s Dragon capsule during the Crew-1 mission.

Shannon joined the SpaceX fleet of vessels in 2018 and was slowly upgraded into 2019 to match Megan, SpaceX’s other Dragon recovery ship which had begun conversion for the role previously. Shannon is 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.

Like twin ship Megan, Shannon continues 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.

The vessel recovered Dragon for the first time during the Crew Demo-2 mission, in August 2020.

Crew-2 egress training exercise using Shannon – NASA Kennedy

Following the splashdown of a Dragon capsule, recovery teams in small fast-approach boats connect lines, deployed from Shannon, 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 Shannon. 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.

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. 

NASA astronaut Doug Hurley egresses from Dragon onto Shannon – NASA Kennedy

Shannon successfully recovered astronauts for the first time upon the conclusion of the Crew Demo-2 mission, August 2, 2020. Dragon Endeavor capsule was lifted from the water and NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were egressed from the capsule and taken to the onboard medical facility for checkouts. Shortly after, both were flown back to land by a helicopter which landed on Shannon.  

Dragon Endeavor lifted aboard Shannon – NASA Kennedy

Fairing Recovery

When required, Shannon 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 for the ArabSat-6A, Starlink 0.9, STP-2, and AMOS-17 missions. The ship was fitted with inflatables and sent downrange to haul fairing halves from the water. Shannon was successful and delivered a fairing half back to Port Canaveral during each mission.

Fairing half recovered by Shannon – SpaceX

Last Known Location

Track the last known AIS position received from Shannon. 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: 9566887

Length: 52m / 170 ft

Breadth: 11m / 36 ft

Joined SpaceX Fleet: 2018

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