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SpaceX pulled off a long-sought rocket-reusability milestone during yesterday's epic Falcon Heavy launch.
The company's net-equipped boat, Ms. Tree (formerly known as Mr. Steven), caught the powerful rocket's falling payload fairing off the Florida coast in the wee hours of yesterday morning (June 25), SpaceX representatives said.
Speedy - Boat - Occasions - Deal
This was a first for the speedy boat, which had come close on multiple occasions but had never managed to seal the deal.
Payload fairings protect satellites during launch and are jettisoned after rockets reach space. The fairings SpaceX uses for the Heavy and the company's workhorse Falcon 9 rocket, which fall back to Earth in two pieces, cost about $6 million each, company founder and CEO Elon Musk has said.
Motivation - Hardware - SpaceX - Halves - Parachutes
There's thus ample motivation to recover and reuse this expensive hardware. Indeed, SpaceX equips both fairing halves with parachutes and small steering thrusters, to bring the gear down softly and under control.
And that's where Ms. Tree comes in: Snagging the fairing halves before they hit corrosive seawater makes reuse more feasible and cost effective, Musk has said.
Ms - Tree - Fairing - Half - Sky
Ms. Tree plucked one fairing half out of the sky yesterday morning, and the other half splashed down in the Atlantic, according to SpaceX launch commentator and principal integration engineer John Insprucker.
"So, another first-time accomplishment for the SpaceX team, especially out there in the...
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