SpaceX will use a net boat named 'Mr. Steven' to recover rocket fairing

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Launching things into space is cost-prohibitive, to say the least. It’s a hurdle Elon Musk identified years ago and has served as the basis for his private space company, SpaceX.

Musk’s idea is pretty simple. If SpaceX can recycle key components of a launch, subsequent launches will be significantly cheaper. His company has demonstrated the ability to do so time and again by landing and reusing rocket boosters and its Dragon spacecraft. Now, the company wants to try and recycle a fairing.

As TechCrunch explains, the fairing is the shell section at the top of a rocket that protects cargo heading to space. In SpaceX’s most recent Falcon Heavy test, for example, it’s where the Tesla Roadster was stored.

Pauline Acalin from Teslarati recently managed to capture images of SpaceX’s fairing-catching vessel. Dubbed Mr. Steven, the recovery vessel is essentially a barge holding up a giant net. It seems SpaceX aims to catch the fairing in the net (it’ll be slowed down by parachutes). It’s kind of like a safety net you’d see a trapeze artist use… but, for a rocket fairing falling out of the sky.

Recovering and reusing a fairing could save SpaceX a significant amount of money. As Teslarati highlights, Musk once joked that a fairing is a $5 million pallet of cash.

SpaceX’s next mission is set for February 21 (that’s tomorrow). We should know soon enough if Mr. Steven is a success.

Images courtesy Pauline Acalin, Teslarati

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Godel

TS Addict
From viewing videos on YouTube it looks like the fairing splits vertically into two halves and each half is slowed by its own parachute.

So are they going to need two catch boats?

Edit: From reading elsewhere they're starting by trying to catch one half, just to see if the procedure works.
 
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VitalyT

Russ-Puss
As TechCrunch explains, the fairing is the shell section at the top of a rocket that protects cargo heading to space
That's odd, because fairing is from aerodynamics where it is defined as a front element that improves air streamlining. And what he is actually talking about is payload nose con.
 

Urgelt

TS Enthusiast
From viewing videos on YouTube it looks like the fairing splits vertically into two halves and each half is slowed by its own parachute.

So are they going to need two catch boats?

Edit: From reading elsewhere they're starting by trying to catch one half, just to see if the procedure works.
Thanks. You asked my question, then answered it.

It makes sense that they would test it before building a second barge.
 

Urgelt

TS Enthusiast
As TechCrunch explains, the fairing is the shell section at the top of a rocket that protects cargo heading to space
That's odd, because fairing is from aerodynamics where it is defined as a front element that improves air streamlining. And what he is actually talking about is payload nose con.
No. It's a fairing, and it splits into two pieces and falls back to the Earth once the payload is out of the atmosphere. Fairings are used for cargo missions. The sole purpose of the fairings is to provide aerodynamic streamlining, and they are discarded once the atmosphere is sufficiently tenuous that aerodynamics are no longer a factor.

The term 'nose cone' refers to manned missions using conical vehicles at the top of the rocket stack.
 

OutlawCecil

TS Evangelist
From viewing videos on YouTube it looks like the fairing splits vertically into two halves and each half is slowed by its own parachute.

So are they going to need two catch boats?

Edit: From reading elsewhere they're starting by trying to catch one half, just to see if the procedure works.
As I understand it, the "booster rockets" both are designed to return and land safely which you can watch videos of. The main "core" rocket goes to space, does its thing, then comes back but is out of fuel and needs to drop into water, which failed on the last mission resulting in it smashing into the water and blowing up. I think this is to help catch the "core rocket" which there's only one of.
 

Urgelt

TS Enthusiast
As I understand it, the "booster rockets" both are designed to return and land safely which you can watch videos of. The main "core" rocket goes to space, does its thing, then comes back but is out of fuel and needs to drop into water, which failed on the last mission resulting in it smashing into the water and blowing up. I think this is to help catch the "core rocket" which there's only one of.
No, Cecil, definitely not true, starting with terminology. The 'core' is a first-stage booster, too.

They'll use a landing barge at sea for the center core first-stage booster, same as they do for conventional Falcon 9 rockets that have to expend too much fuel to be able to return to land. Which is, as it happens, precisely why they have to recover the center core at sea - it's a long way out before it can perform a boost-back maneuver.

Look at the video and photos of the core booster landing attempt. Granted, it's not easy to pick out the details, but that's the same barge they used before for Falcon 9 first-stage recovery in the Atlantic. There are no arms on that barge, and no net.

I can't even imagine how they would use a barge with arms and a net to recover a first-stage booster. There's just no way.

Points for imagination, but in this case, your imagination led you astray. This new barge with arms and a net is for catching half of a fairing as it parachutes down. Beats me if it'll work, but we have to give SpaceX points for imagination, too.
 
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mgwerner

TS Booster
From viewing videos on YouTube it looks like the fairing splits vertically into two halves and each half is slowed by its own parachute.

So are they going to need two catch boats?

Edit: From reading elsewhere they're starting by trying to catch one half, just to see if the procedure works.
As I understand it, the "booster rockets" both are designed to return and land safely which you can watch videos of. The main "core" rocket goes to space, does its thing, then comes back but is out of fuel and needs to drop into water, which failed on the last mission resulting in it smashing into the water and blowing up. I think this is to help catch the "core rocket" which there's only one of.
You should probably read the entire article, think about it, and then only comment if you actually understand what is being written about.
 

OutlawCecil

TS Evangelist
You should probably read the entire article, think about it, and then only comment if you actually understand what is being written about.
*sniff*sniff* I smell a troll. I did read the article which wasn't clear, hence why I started my comment with "As I understand it". I believe my incorrect assumption was more helpful than your "think before you post" post. At least I was on topic. Thanks.

Urgelt:
Sorry I wasn't trying to use accurate names which is why I used quotes for general part names. Thanks for the info!