SpaceX shared footage of its first successful fairing recovery on Twitter. The recovery was achieved following the launch of the STP-2 Falcon Heavy mission late last month.
Landing on Ms. Tree pic.twitter.com/4lhPWRpaS9
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 4, 2019
The California-based launch provider shared the two clips of the recovery late yesterday. The first shows the separation from inside one half of the fairing. As it falls back to Earth, friction heats up particles in the atmosphere creating what looks like a spectacular blue flame. Once the fairing half reenters the atmosphere, its parasail deploys and it drifts back down to Earth. The GO Ms. Tree (formerly Mr. Steven) recovery boat is then positioned underneath and attempt to catch the fairing half in a giant net. The second clip shared by SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk shows the fairing landing in the net and is shot from the deck of the recovery boat.
A rocket fairing is an aerodynamic shell that protects satellites during the ascent phase of a launch. Once the vehicle is through Earth’s atmosphere, the fairing halves are jettisoned in a clamshell-like fashion.
Most providers then simply allow the fairing halves to drift back down to Earth and sink to the bottom of the ocean. However, in the company’s relentless push to reduce costs through reusability, SpaceX have been trying to recover its fairings for years. On June 25, they finally managed to recover one half of a fairing with the recovery boat GO Ms. Tree.
The next SpaceX launch is currently scheduled for July 21. A Falcon 9 will carry a Dragon spacecraft for the launch provider’s eighteenth International Space Station resupply mission. In addition to supplies for the station, the spacecraft will also carry the third International Docking Adapter and the ALaNa 27 RFTSat CubeSat.