back to article SpaceX pulls off an incredible catch, netting both halves of its Falcon fairing as they fell Earthwards after latest launch

SpaceX has pulled off another remarkable feat of space rocket recycling, capturing both pieces of a nose cone shield from its most recent launch, using giant nets suspended over the back of two boats in its fleet. The two pieces of fairing protect the rocket’s cargo in the nose of the rocket during the initial punch through …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least one of the boats should have been called 'Owzat"

    Maybe the other could have been


    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      That reminds me...

      "The Bowler’s Holding, the Batsman’s Willey"

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. MyffyW Silver badge

        Can't beat football on that one - "Seaman dribbles between his legs" being my all time favourite.

      3. Blitheringeejit


        ...the slip fielder "standing with his legs apart waiting for a tickle".

        TMS just hasn't been the same since Johnners and Blowers departed (or indeed John Arlott, a radio deity for folks of my vintage) - but it's still been lovely to have it back in the last couple of weeks, and Andy Zaltzman is good value. As comforting as the shipping forecast, or a lukewarm pint on the village green (though of course the village green is now a new-build housing development).

        Goodness only knows what the leftpondians are making of this thread - or what it has to do with SpaceX...

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: ...or

          Indeed, Johnners and Aggers were responsible for the all-time funniest (and most dangerous) piece of British broadcast radio. People listening to Mr Ian Botham's dismissal (hit wicket) were in hysterics and many had to stop driving. Motorway Police were astounded that suddenly all manner of vehicles, in unison, pulled onto the hard shoulder, with incapacitated drivers.

          WARNING - do not listen while operating machinery:

          1. Widdershins

            Re: ...or

            We were driving down the motorway when DLT had a similar experience:


        2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          Re: ...or

          Goodness only knows what the leftpondians are making of this thread - or what it has to do with SpaceX...

          The cricket theme is valid - catching an object moving through the air

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Or, turning eyes to the umpire in a manner that clearly implies the batsman is out "Owisee?!"

  2. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Great stuff

    Looks like they only just made it, but the point is they did!

  3. Martin J Hooper

    I only saw one half get caught - Was there another video?

    Good work all round though I'd say!

    1. Jon 37

      Click through to twitter, the second video is in a reply to to the first one. Or use these links:

      First tweet with video:

      Second tweet with video:

  4. Ashto5

    True Agile

    Learn by iteration

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: True Agile

      It’s how much science is done. You bootstrap your way along.

  5. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    You Don't Fly Once

    You Only Live Twice

    Can they land the first stage in an inactive volcano?

    1. Spherical Cow

      Re: You Don't Fly Once

      Yes they can, if there's one within range from the Florida launch site. Range will be dependant on payload and orbit.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: You Don't Fly Once

      Yes, but their anti-ninja security capabilities are for shite.

      Mine's the bullet proof, laser resistant coat with an inner pocket for my flask.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: You Don't Fly Once

      Best bet is probably "List of volcanoes in Ascension Island"

  6. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    Could smallish asteroids be caught the same way? Would doing so better preserve organics for analysis?

    1. Spherical Cow

      Yes of course, so long as the smallish asteroids have steerable parachutes.

      1. stiine Silver badge

        Or rocket engines...

      2. Psmo

        And nitrogen boosters

      3. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C

        And the smallish asteroids are bigger than the mesh of your net. Coz too small an asteroid is going to put a hole in your boat.

        And the net (and extending arms) can dissipate the 1/2 m v ^2 of the smallish asteroid. Coz too big an asteroid is going to put a hole in your boat.

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Smallish asteroid terminal velocity

          The terminal velocity of a meteorite in 'dark flight', i.e., after the heated phase when it no longer glows is roughly 200 mph. There is an 'interesting' video of a parachutist nearly hit by a lump of rock in dark flight (it occurs on a few frames of the video from his helmet camera).

          Most meteorites are actually tiny. If you have a flat roof and a strong magnet, you can collect the magnetic debris form the roof and some of the small particles will actually be meteoritic iron, though you will need to check with a microscope.

          Happy hunting.

  7. jgarbo

    Is it cost-effective? One-use cones v. reusable + parachutes + retrieval vessels + personnel + refurbishing? I'd like to see some (non-Musk) numbers.

    1. Julz

      The article suggest ~$6m per fairing, so ~$12m per flight. I don't think you would need to catch too many to make it fiscally worthwhile.

      Edit, I guess it's more complicated than that as is seems you can refurbish ocean dunked fairings so I suppose the figure is less than -$12m. But by how much?

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Good question

        I guess it's also the cost of refurbishing fairings and getting them flight ready again vs recycling/scrapping or selling used fairings on ebay to collectors. And I guess the mass cost in supporting re-use. AFAIK that mass budget limits re-use of rocket stages for some launches. But catching a falling star and putting in your rocket, or saving for a rainy day is pretty neat.

      2. JJF

        It is $6m per fairing i.e. $3m per fairing half.

      3. Jon 37

        To refurbish ocean-dunked fairings, you still need the nitrogen thrusters and parachute to arrange for the fairing to survive re-entry and hitting the sea. And you still need the ship, with a crane and a dive crew to pull the fairing out of the sea.

        So catching them in a net, the only extra costs are the steering and release mechanisms on the parachute, and the cost of the net. If that reduces the cost of refurbishment even a bit, it's probably worth it. And you avoid having to send divers to attach the crane to the fairing, that removes a risky operation (diving is mildly dangerous).

      4. fidodogbreath Silver badge

        Recovering a dunked fairing from the ocean is neither cheap nor easy. Given that catching protects it from a lengthy salt-water bath, it also saves on refurb time and cost (as noted in the article).

    2. 100113.1537

      Invaluable PR

      The cost saving is not the issue - everything Musk does has a PR component and these films are worth a lot more than the cost they have sunk into the re-usable components. I am not saying SpacX don't do good engineering, but the engineering goals are set by marketing not operaions.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Invaluable PR

        Not entirely true. The goal is truly resuable space craft. Sources of high quality ores are drying up. We can’t keep burning up and sinking in the ocean all the advanced composites which are used in these things or we will run out of atoms to make them out of and have to mine the deep oceans for all the sunk stuff which will cost a huge amount even if we have good ideas where they all are.

        Rocketlabs who use solid fuels and 3D printed engines for fast productions are working on recovering their rockets. They don’t have the same sort of PR machine that Musk has so why are they doing it?

        Well for one thing they’re 3D hab is in the US so they have to ship the rockets to the NZ facility. By landing and reusing them they save shipping costs including overland to Mahia. Also I suspect they want to know how robust their 3D printed engines are by reusing some of them. If they can demonstrate robustness then 3D printing rocket parts will become routine. THAT has implications for colonising places like Mars where ores may be hard to find and limited.

        Until we get spaceplanes with hybrid engines going and the hypersonic missiles suggest it can be done then recovering pointy rockets for reuse is the only game in town.

  8. b_armitage


    What happens to the parachutes once they disconnect and fly off?

    1. Ken 16 Bronze badge

      Re: Parachutes

      They nest on the side of Hawaiian volcanoes and brief the next generation, of course.

  9. JDX Gold badge

    I want a documentary

    It would be great if Netflix or someone (probably not Amazon considering) got permission to do a documentary on SpaceX's achievements. It's both fascinating and looks pretty cool.

  10. fishman

    Whats Next?

    "SpaceX engineers are now trying to figure out how they can recover the second-stage booster as well as the first. "

    No. SpaceX at one time considered trying to recover the second stage of the Falcon 9, but gave up on that idea. The problem is that every pound you add to the second stage you take away a pound from the payload capacity. Why spend all that time, effort, and money when the Falcon 9 will eventually be replaced by Starship/Super Heavy?

    The author of the article didn't read the link he supplied - what SpaceX is doing is modifying a Falcon 9 second stage so they can try to make it reenter the atmosphere the way that Starship will do it - as a testbed for their ideas. They are not planning on landing it in a controlled manor.

    1. Spherical Cow

      Re: Whats Next?

      To be fair to our Reg hack: the linked article starts by saying the second stage will be reusable and finishes with this quote from Musk:

      “I’m actually quite confident that we’ll be able to achieve full reusability of the upper stage,” he said. “In fact, I’m certain we can achieve full reusability of the upper stage."

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Whats Next?


      'Ere Arfur, that's a bit cheeky. 'Ope they don't land it in our manor.


  11. Chris the bean counter

    Seaman hanging off the chopper

    A teacher told us at school assembly how he witnessed an air sea rescue.

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