Watch SpaceX boat catch falling payload fairing in giant net (video)

SpaceX just plucked another payload fairing out of the sky, and you can see video of the dramatic cosmic catch.

The net-equipped SpaceX boat GO Ms. Tree snagged half of a falling payload fairing Tuesday (Aug. 18), shortly after a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket launched 58 Starlink internet satellites and three Earth-observation spacecraft into orbit. 

Payload fairings are the shrouds that protect satellites during launch. SpaceX fairings come in two pieces, both of which come back to Earth under parachutes in a guided fashion, thanks to small thrusters. Such tech aids recovery and reuse of the fairings, which cost about $6 million each, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has said.

GO Ms. Tree and its sister ship, GO Ms. Chief, are part of this picture as well. Seawater is extremely corrosive, so snatching fairing halves out of the sky makes refurbishment easier, Musk has said. The ships have snagged a handful of fairings to date, including a double catch during the launch of a South Korean military satellite last month. (Ocean splashdowns don’t preclude reuse, however; SpaceX has reflown fairings that it fished out of the water.)

GO Ms. Chief pulled one fairing half out of the Atlantic Ocean today. But GO Ms. Tree caught the other one, a success captured by a camera-equipped drone. Musk posted that footage on Twitter Tuesday, scoring the 43-second video with some playfully incongruous lounge music.

Today’s launch featured reusability action on multiple fronts. It was the sixth launch for this particular Falcon 9 first stage, for example, a milestone that SpaceX had never before achieved. And more…

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