On June 25 this year, Elong Musk’s SpaceX launched one of the world’s most powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, into space. It carried 24 satellites to orbit to take up residence in space. However, some parts of the Falcon Heavy were destined to come back to Earth, including the payload fairing that protected the satellites from the extreme forces of a rocket launch. Recently, SpaceX released a stunning video showing the payload fairing of Falcon Heavy rocket plunging back into the atmosphere.
In a tweet, SpaceX proudly released a video giving rocket chasers a fairing-eye's view of the return to Earth. Along with the video, it said, “View from the fairing during the STP-2 mission; when the fairing returns to Earth, friction heats up particles in the atmosphere, which appear bright blue in the video.”
Take a look:
View from the fairing during the STP-2 mission; when the fairing returns to Earth, friction heats up particles in the atmosphere, which appear bright blue in the video pic.twitter.com/P8dgaIfUbl— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 3, 2019
To catch one of its rocket nose cones during an actual mission is a particularly important milestone for SpaceX. The fairing acts like a nose cone for the rocket and protects the cargo being launched off-planet. Once the rocket has punched through Earth's atmosphere, the fairing gets jettisoned and comes back to Earth. It's a short life for the fairing, but it's an expensive one.
According to cnet.com, the fairing costs around $6 million. Rather than manufacturing a new fairing every time, it's better just to re-use them.
SpaceX’s fairing recovery boat, recently renamed from “Mr. Steven” to “Ms. Tree,” is fitted with a giant net to catch the rocket’s fairing shell as it descends under a parafoil.
The fairing catch June 25 showed there is promise for SpaceX’s preferred method of recovery. In another tweet, Elon Musk posted a video showing the fairing landing in Ms. Tree’s net.
Rocket fairing returning from space https://t.co/kundXPeslm
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 4, 2019