Elon Musk’s SpaceX catches Falcon 9’s rocket head for the third time in a row — with a giant net out in the middle of the Atlantic ocean
- Elon Musk’s space company
SpaceXsuccessfully caught Falcon 9’s rocket head as it fell back to Earth for the third time in a row, marking a new record for the company.
- Recovering the rocket’s nose — or fairing — for reuse can cut down on costs for launching rockets and putting satellites into space.
- In order to catch the two halves of the rocket nose, Space X has two boats out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean that wait with nets outstretched.
Aloha, welcome back from space https://t.co/xWPN09Wtaw— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 1597789066000
Musk’s brainchild has been lauded for its initiative to build reusable rockets in an attempt to make access to space more affordable for everyone. Falcon 9, the biggest rocket in its inventory, launched from Cape Canaveral in the US on August 18 for the 40th time.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship – first time a booster has completed… https://t.co/LmZJGjZU9S— SpaceX (@SpaceX) 1597761656000
It was a record sixth-time that the company was using the same booster on the Falcon 9. The booster accounts for 60% of the rocket’s overall price tag helping it severely cut down on launch costs.
While SpaceX seems to be confident about its abilities to recover boosters, recovering payload fairings — the rocket’s nose cone which splits into two as it falls back to Earth — is another story. Recovering and reusing them can further reduce costs for the company as its rocket launches become more frequent.
Ms Tree catches fairing in her net https://t.co/sqlJ63NetB— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 1597786591000
How to catch a Falcon 9 fairing
Not much is known about what goes on behind the scenes, aside from the fact that each half of the rocket’s fairing is equipped with its parachute and guidance software. Back on Earth SpaceX’s two boats — GO Ms. Tree and GO Ms. Chief — wait with outstretched nets as the pieces return.
At times, weather conditions and visibility can lead the best of plans astray. After failing more than a dozen times, SpaceX only caught its first fairing in June 2019. It took another year for it to simultaneously catch both halves in the same drop on July 21.
In today’s catch, however, Ms. Tree was only able to net one fairing.
Ms. Tree caught a Falcon 9 fairing half! https://t.co/TFaJqIf1qT— SpaceX (@SpaceX) 1597763965000
Even if the fairings land in the water, SpaceX can scoop them up and take them back to shore to be prepped for reuse. According to the founder of one of the biggest unicorns in India,
This happened. @elonmusk ‘s @SpaceX has changed the space industry forever. This is Falcon 9 rocket’s fairing as… https://t.co/U6jzbwW60I— Vijay Shekhar Sharma (@vijayshekhar) 1597821736000
The next launch scheduled for August 27 will tell if SpaceX and Musk can keep up their winning streak.
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