Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

SpaceX just can’t catch its rocket nosecones, no matter how hard it tries

Published Jan 30th, 2019 8:08PM EST
spacex fairing recovery
Image: Terry Renna/AP/REX/Shutterstock

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

While you’re watching SpaceX send rockets into space over and over again, it can be easy to forget that the company is really still just a startup. As such, it’s still working out the kinks in its operations, and one of the kinks it just can’t seem to iron out is its repeated failures to catch and reuse a portion of their rocket called the fairing.

The fairing is a piece that forms the nosecone of the rocket, and it’s not particularly cheap. SpaceX boss Elon Musk is determined to figure out a way to catch the nosecone before it slams into the ocean so that it can be reused at a later date, but in a newly-published video it’s clear that SpaceX has once again come up short.

As you can see in the video, the recovery test almost went perfectly, and was going quite smoothly until the very end. The nosecone just barely missed the net of SpaceX’s recovery ship Mr. Steven, but this is hardly the first time.

SpaceX has tried repeatedly to catch the fairing, only to be disappointed when something went wrong. Early tests were plagued by issues related to the chute, but lately it’s been Mr. Steven’s inability to correctly position itself that has led to failure.

If this sounds familiar, well, it should. Just a couple of weeks ago SpaceX released a video that looked a whole lot like this one, with the nosecone narrowly missing the massive net and splashing down in the ocean. The ship seems to be lined up just right, but pushes a little too far forward and misses the epic catch.

When SpaceX first began toying with the idea of catching the fairing it used a net that was considerably smaller than the one Mr. Steven is currently equipped with. It was thought that the much wider net would make things considerably easier, but the company has yet to prove that it’s capable of reliably recovering the nosecone. Maybe next time!

More Science