For the first time in its history, SpaceX has caught both parts of the rocket’s containment shell. For this, they used ships with nets.
SpaceX noted that initially, they wanted to create reusable rockets, which significantly reduce the cost of space travel. The company first returned and reused the launch vehicles. However, this launch was the first where SpaceX was able to catch both halves of the nose cone. This is stated on Twitter by the CEO of the company, Elon Musk.
He previously noted that these parts cost about $6 million. Previously, the company reused some parts even after they landed on land or sea, but if they are returned undamaged, they can save dozens of hours of work and millions of dollars in additional investment.
Both fairing halves caught from space by @SpaceX ships!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 20, 2020
In this case, SpaceX caught both sides of the Falcon 9 rocket’s fairing. This is the shell that fits over the nose of the launch vehicle to move the payload and protect the device. After leaving the dense layers of the atmosphere, it splits into two parts, which fall to the Earth. To catch them, ships equipped with nets are used, into which parts of the fairing must fall when falling.
At the end of 2019, the company managed to land half of the fairing on the water. Then the engineers tried to fit the fairing into the net. Less than two months later, the company’s specialists managed to catch one of the fairing parts.