On Thursday, Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully launched a rocket carrying a payload with two internet satellites. The launch was previously delayed because the company needed to check the fairing of the Falcon 9 rocket. Furthermore, Musk attempted to recover the nose cone belonging to one of the rockets so that it could be reused on the next launch. Unfortunately, recovering the nose cone failed.
The company sent a “catcher’s mitt” boat which would help in recovering the nose cone of the SpaceX rocket. That way, the recovery would keep up with Musk’s aim for SpaceX to make space travel cheaper by using reusable equipment for launching. The company is also known for relaunching entire Falcon 9 rockets and cargo capsules, to cut the costs of space travel.
“Going to try to catch the giant fairing (nosecone) of Falcon 9 as it falls back from space at about eight times the speed of sound. It has onboard thrusters and a guidance system to bring it through the atmosphere intact, then releases a parafoil and our ship, named Mr. Steven, with basically a giant catcher’s mitt welded on, tries to catch it,” Musk said in Instagram post.
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The nose cone is part of the rocket which shields its tip, in order to protect its cargo during launch. In most cases, the nose cone splits in half, once the most dangerous phase of the journey is over. After that, the two pieces fall to Earth. The company likely aims to succeed at recovering the nose cone of the rockets as they are nowhere near inexpensive.
As per the report in The Verge, at a March 2017 press conference, Musk said: “Imagine you had $6 million in cash in a palette flying through the air and it’s going to smash into the ocean. Would you try to recover that? Yes. Yes, you would.”
For the launch of the two internet satellites, in their attempt to recover the nose cone the company used navigation systems and parachutes to kit out the nose cone halves. After that, they brought a ship called Mr. Steven out into the Pacific Ocean. The company used a giant claw which was attached to the ship which pointed to the sky and had a net stretched across it. Musk was hopeful that the net would catch at least one of the nose cone halves that were made during the flight.
Unfortunately, after the launch, Mr. Steven failed in recovering the nose cone. One half of the cone fell a hundred meters away from the boat. Still, Musk doesn’t give up and has said that he plans to accomplish his goal within the next six months.
Nevertheless, the launch itself was successful and the payload has successfully reached its orbit. The first two internet satellites launched are just the first step of what Musk believes will be a great income source for the company.