After a number of delays due to hardware issues as well as bad weather, SpaceX finally managed to send the AMOS-17 communications satellite into Earth orbit last night. The mission went well, with the SpaceX Falcon 9 completing its third mission, but due to the nature of this particular launch, it wasn’t possible for the company to recover its rocket stage a third time.
However, that didn’t stop SpaceX from recovering another valuable piece of its high-tech hardware. The nosecone fairing is something that the company has been trying to catch and reuse for some time, and it finally snagged one for the first time back in late June. Now, SpaceX has done it again, and we have video of the catch to prove it.
Tweeting early on Sunday night, SpaceX boss Elon Musk posted a video of SpaceX’s net-equipped ship M. Tree perfectly positioning itself below the slowly-descending nosecone, allowing it to gently fall into its huge net:
Rocket fairing falls from space & is caught by Ms Tree boat pic.twitter.com/nJv0Ry1iKk
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2019
SpaceX has spent many months trying to perfect the art of catching its rocket fairings, and it’s had no shortage of problems along the way. The awkward shape of the nosecone halves makes it hard to predict their path, and many failures shaped the design of the chute system that the fairings are now equipped with.
SpaceX’s reusable rocket technology has proven itself already, with the company sending many of the first stages of its Falcon 9s into space multiple times. Doing so can dramatically shorten the turnaround time between launches while also allowing the company to offer its services at a lower cost.
Catching and reusing its nosecones isn’t as big of a deal, but it can still help the company’s business model and potentially lower costs even further, but only if SpaceX can make a habit of catching them without issue.