On Tuesday, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 successfully lifted off from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral which was carrying the AMOS-17 satellite for Spacecom. What made this launch special was the fact that SpaceX’s net-wielding boat, dubbed Ms. Tree Boat (previously called Mr. Steven), was able to catch the rocket’s half fairing.
SpaceX’s CEO, Elon Musk tweeted a video clip of Ms. TreeBoat catching the fairing today.
This was this particular Falcon 9’s first stage’s third and last flight. The previous flights were during the Telstar-19 VANTAGE mission (July 2018) and the Es’hail-2 mission (November 2018).
The nose or fairing is the top-most part of a rocket that separates into two halves once the rocket is outside the Earth’s atmosphere. These fairings are designed to protect the rocket from the extreme temperature due to air drag as well as provides aerodynamic stability to the rocket.
After numerous attempts, SpaceX’s boat was able to successfully catch the half fairing in June, this year. And the current launch marks another successful catch of the half fairing.
In a press conference last year, Musk had said, “Imagine you had $6 million in cash in a palette flying through the air, and it’s going to smash into the ocean. Would you try to recover that? Yes. Yes, you would.” Clearly, he was referring to the rocket fairings.
SpaceX aims to save this cost by reusing this fairing for the next launch. SpaceX is known for reusing rocket parts which makes their launches more economical. The reusability of rocket parts will lay a crucial role for SpaceX as it enters into a private space flights’ phase.
The full video stream of the launch is available here.