SpaceX will attempt to break its own record by recovering both pieces of its nosecone as they fall from space
- SpaceX will try to recover both pieces of its Falcon 9 nosecone for the first time
- The company will use two ships equipped with large nets
- A launch will also deliver a communications satellite covering Southeast Asia
SpaceX will try and up the ante on its efforts to recycle rocket parts.
On Monday night, the Elon Musk-owned aerospace company will launch one of its Falcon 9 rockets for the third time out of its facility in Florida and attempt to catch several of the craft’s parts as they fall from space using a net attached to a ship.
While SpaceX has already had some success in catching returning parts, the next launch will attempt, for the first time, to catch both halves of its ship’s rocket fairings – the conical piece at the top of the rocket that make up its nosecone.
SpaceX has successfully landed one its rocket parts into a giant net this June in a boon for the company’s mission of re-using rocket parts
If successfully caught, the effort would mark the next, and biggest, step in its mission to build re-usable spacecraft since it successfully caught one half of its fairing for the first time in June.
SpaceX will use two vessels dubbed Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief to coordinate the rescue of its rocket fairings and intervene before they plunge into the ocean.
The nosecone is not only a crucial instrument in protecting cargo aboard the powerful rocket – it shrouds payloads and prevents them from burning up during flight – but is also fairly expensive.
Just one of the cones costs about $6 million – a price tag that gave rise to an apt analogy by SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, last year.
‘Imagine you had $6 million in cash in a palette flying through the air, and it’s going to smash into the ocean,’ Musk said during a press conference last year as reported by The Verge.
‘Would you try to recover that? Yes. Yes, you would.’
To guide the fairing into the net, SpaceX uses a combination of on-board thrusters and an attached parachute to accomplish a type of steering.
Pictured above is SpaceX successfully launching the ‘Dragon’ capsule on top of its Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida for its 19th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station
Until this June, several past attempts using this method have been unsuccessful, with nosecones missing the boat and net entirely and dropping straight into the ocean.
The unsuccessful attempts and an accident that caused one of the previous ship’s arm booms to break eventually prompted the company to make the net bigger.
SpaceX’s launch on Monday will deliver a communications satellite that aims to cover swaths of Southeast Asia and will take place between 7:10PM ET with he launch window ending at 8:38PM ET.