SpaceX has revealed that it will utilize a flight-proven fairing for the first time with the launch of the Starlink 1 mission next week. The fairing halves set to be utilized for the mission were recovered following the launch of the Arabsat-6A communication satellite aboard a Falcon Heavy in April.
The California-based launch provider revealed plans to utilize a flight-proven fairing for the first time in a November 5 Twitter post. It will be used to launch SpaceX’s second Starlink mission, which will deploy another 60 Starlink communication satellites into low Earth orbit. The mission will likely be used as a certification flight to validate flight-proven fairings for potential future customers.
Although SpaceX appears to have mastered the fairing catch, the two fairing halves recovered from the Arabsat-6A mission were fished out of the ocean and not caught in the net of a recovery ship. Responding to question on an April 12 Twitter post, SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk revealed that the fairing halves had been recovered from the water undamaged. It is, however, unclear what kind of refurbishment was required before they were ready to support a second mission.
The reuse of flight-proven fairings is the next step in SpaceX’s push towards complete reusability. Over the last few years, the launch provider has proven time and time again that its Falcon 9 booster can be reused multiple times. This has allowed the company to offer significant savings to customers. Flight-proven fairings will likely further reduce launch costs.
A static fire test of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle that will carry the flight-proven fairing was completed on November 5. The Starlink 1 mission is expected to be launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on November 11 at approximately 14:50 UTC.