SpaceX Catches Falling Reusable Nose Cone Fairing With Giant Net (Video)

SpaceX first successfully captured a reusable fairing in June. The company currently only has one net-wielding boat capable of catching the rockets, …

Following a slight delay, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket had a successful launch on Tuesday evening from Florida, shown in a video by SpaceX founder Elon Musk on Twitter.

Although the first stage was unable to be recovered due to mission requirements, Elon Musk said at least one fairing was captured by a recovery ship.

Since the historic launch of the SES-10 communications satellite 24 months ago, SpaceX has been attempting to make reusing rocket nose cone fairings a standard practice.

Just under two and a half years ago, SpaceX first reused a part of its Falcon 9 rocket.

The company has since launched previously flown Falcon 9 first stages over 24 times.

Rocket fairing falls from space & is caught by Ms Tree boat pic.twitter.com/nJv0Ry1iKk

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2019

​The video of the launch shows a boat with a large net attached to it floating on a dimly lit ocean surface.

The fairing drops gracefully down to earth and lands comfortably in the net.

Following the breaking away of the fairing once it reaches space, thrusters and a guidance system guide the pieces back to Earth.

Parachutes are then deployed to slow the descent.

The boat carrying a gigantic net, known as Ms Tree, breaks the fairing’s fall.

The idea behind the catching process is that it is more cost beneficial to reuse nose cones rather than simply let them fall away.

Russian space officials have since shifted from previously dismissing the financial benefits of a reusable rocket case to developing their own unique design bureau specifically for building reusable launch vehicles.

European scientists also rejected reusable rockets but are now building their own Falcon 9-like rocket.

The next Japanese rocket, following its new H3 booster, is likely to be reusable and China is scrambling to develop its own model similar to SpaceX.

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Watch SpaceX catch its rocket fairing in a massive net

Tweeting early on Sunday night, SpaceX boss Elon Musk posted a video of SpaceX’s net-equipped ship M. Tree perfectly positioning itself below the …

After a number of delays due to hardware issues as well as bad weather, SpaceX finally managed to send the AMOS-17 communications satellite into Earth orbit last night. The mission went well, with the SpaceX Falcon 9 completing its third mission, but due to the nature of this particular launch, it wasn’t possible for the company to recover its rocket stage a third time.

However, that didn’t stop SpaceX from recovering another valuable piece of its high-tech hardware. The nosecone fairing is something that the company has been trying to catch and reuse for some time, and it finally snagged one for the first time back in late June. Now, SpaceX has done it again, and we have video of the catch to prove it.

Tweeting early on Sunday night, SpaceX boss Elon Musk posted a video of SpaceX’s net-equipped ship M. Tree perfectly positioning itself below the slowly-descending nosecone, allowing it to gently fall into its huge net:

Rocket fairing falls from space & is caught by Ms Tree boat pic.twitter.com/nJv0Ry1iKk

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2019

SpaceX has spent many months trying to perfect the art of catching its rocket fairings, and it’s had no shortage of problems along the way. The awkward shape of the nosecone halves makes it hard to predict their path, and many failures shaped the design of the chute system that the fairings are now equipped with.

SpaceX’s reusable rocket technology has proven itself already, with the company sending many of the first stages of its Falcon 9s into space multiple times. Doing so can dramatically shorten the turnaround time between launches while also allowing the company to offer its services at a lower cost.

Catching and reusing its nosecones isn’t as big of a deal, but it can still help the company’s business model and potentially lower costs even further, but only if SpaceX can make a habit of catching them without issue.

Image Source: Terry Renna/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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See Elon Musk’s $6 million rocket part land in a boat in the ocean — a feat he calls ‘insane’

SpaceX is in the business of making rockets reusable, and on Tuesday Elon Musk tweeted a video of one of the ways the company makes that happen …

SpaceX is in the business of making rockets reusable, and on Tuesday Elon Musk tweeted a video of one of the ways the company makes that happen.

Musk posted a video of a multimillion-dollar SpaceX reusable rocket part falling to Earth (after being used to protect the delivery of a satellite to orbit) and then being caught by a giant net on a boat in the middle of the ocean.

The piece of equipment is called a “fairing,” or more colloquially a “nose cone,” which protects satellites as they are launched into space, according to SpaceX. Once the rocket is launched into space, the fairing — which has parachutes and guidance technology attached — falls away. After all, fairings are expensive: A SpaceX fairing runs about $6 million, according to CNBC.

The first time SpaceX successfully caught a fairing was in June.

“We’ve just recently been successful in catching the nose cone of the rocket. … that is a crazy exercise with [a] boat that’s basically a giant catcher’s mitt. The actual complexity of recovering the fairing is so nuts. Like, I’m not sure we should’ve done it,” Musk said on “CBS Sunday Morning” in July.

The fairing falls from space with incredible speed and velocity, Musk said.

“It comes in hot,” Musk said on “CBS Sunday Morning,” with “super-heated plasma and sparks and stuff flying off of it.”

“It’s coming in at basically five times faster than a bullet from an assault rifle. It’s insane,” Musk said. “And then it hits the atmosphere, it goes subsonic [flying at a speed less than that of sound]. We deploy the parachutes. And the parachute itself is a steerable parachute…. So it’s steering itself down….”

The boat also moves itself into place to catch the fairing.

“[T]he boat closes a data link with each fairing half. And the boat adjusts course automatically. And then the two just maneuver to touch each other,” Musk says. “It’s insane!”

SpaceX’s goal is to build a fully reusable rocket to bring the per-launch cost down.

“Full and rapid reusability is the holy grail of access to space and is a fundamental step towards it, without which we cannot become a multi-planet species,” Musk said on “CBS Sunday Morning.” “We cannot have a base on the moon. We cannot have a city on Mars without full and rapid reusability. This is why we’ve been working so hard towards reusability at SpaceX and put a tremendous amount of engineering into achieving reusability of the boost stage and now of the fairing.”

Tuesday’s video of the fairing being caught by a boat was from a launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket which launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

See also:

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Watch: SpaceX Boat Catches Rocket Nose Falling From Sky

GO Ms. Tree, a SpaceX boat, caught a falling Falcon 9 rocket fairing in the Atlantic Ocean on Aug. 6. (Photo Credit: Elon Musk / Twitter) …

Late Tuesday night, GO Ms. Tree, a SpaceX boat, caught half of the nose cone of its Falcon 9 rocket for the second time and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted the cool “save at sea” footage on Twitter.

For the last 18 months, SpaceX has made catching fairings a major priority for space missions, The Verge reported. Fairings, structures that surround payloads and satellites that Falcon 9 rockets carry, protect these important objects during launches. Even though they typically break into two in space, descend back to Earth, and aren’t always retrieved, Musk said the company does the opposite.

Rocket fairing falls from space & is caught by Ms Tree boat pic.twitter.com/nJv0Ry1iKk

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2019

“Imagine you had $6 million in cash in a palette flying through the air, and it’s going to smash into the ocean,” Musk explained at a 2018 press conference. “Would you try to recover that? Yes. Yes, you would.”

Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/garh1LldtF

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 6, 2019

Tuesday’s video, which was shared to Twitter, shows the fairing gently landing into the SpaceX boat’s net in the Atlantic Ocean. The fairing fell from the sky roughly 75 minutes after the Amos-17 communications satellite launched atop the Falcon 9 rocket, Space.com noted. Formerly called Mr. Steven, GO Ms. Tree, the SpaceX boat, helps protect the fairing from saltwater, which could deteriorate its structure and make it difficult to reuse in the future.

On Aug. 6, the Amos-17 satellite and Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station around 7:23 p.m. EST. The Amos-17 satellite will provide satellite communication services to Africa, according to the mission’s webpage. There wasn’t a third landing for the Falcon 9 rocket, since Amos-17 was a big satellite that needed to reach a very far orbit, resulting in the booster not having enough fuel left over to safely return to our planet.

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SpaceX Didn’t Land A Rocket Last Night, But They Did Catch The Fairing

Last night’s Amos-17 communications satellite launch was a bit unusual compared to most SpaceX launches. No attempt was made to land the …

Last night’s Amos-17 communications satellite launch was a bit unusual compared to most SpaceX launches. No attempt was made to land the rocket’s first stage. But that doesn’t mean SpaceX’s trademark reusability wasn’t felt throughout the launch.

While the first stage didn’t land back on Earth, the company did manage to catch the rocket’s fairing (nose cone) with its speedy ship GO Ms. Tree (formerly known as Mr. Steven, the name change happened after the ship was sold to Guice Offshore).

Elon Musk jumped on Twitter early this morning to share the news.

Rocket fairing falling from space (higher res) pic.twitter.com/sa1j10qAWi

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2019

That’s $6 million worth of hardware slowly floating towards GO Ms. Tree. What we don’t see in frame are the control thrusters also used to help steer the fairing towards the boat. It’s more complicated than strapping a set of parachutes and driving the boat to the right spot. Thrusters, a guidance system, parachutes, and a fast boat all come together to catch the fairing.

Last night’s catch is the second successful retrieval of a Falcon 9 fairing. The first happened back in June. SpaceX engineers will be going over both of them to see how they’ll need to be refurbished to hit the skies again.

Last night’s first stage didn’t land, but it also wasn’t its first trip to space. In fact, it was the third. The first stage did some of the heavy lifting for the Telstar-19 VANTAGE mission in July 2018 and the Es’hail-2 mission in November 2018. Let’s take a look back at those landings.

This Falcon 9’s third launch was also its final because the communications satellite weighed 6.5 tons and needed to be placed in geostationary transfer orbit. Amos also received this launch for free after a static test failure in 2016 destroyed the Amos-6 satellite.

When’s the next SpaceX launch? Exact dates are hard to come by right now, but it looks like November and December launches are planned.

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