SpaceX continues to impress with hardware re-use, this time showcasing the extreme environment Falcon 9 & Falcon Heavy fairings withstand to be returned and used on another mission.
SpaceX has shared amazing re-entry footage from one of the two fairings that flew on the most recent Falcon Heavy flight. This is the first time that previously flown fairings have been used on a Falcon Heavy flight. Shortly after the second stage separated and began its burn to insert the payloads into geostationary Earth orbit, the fairing halves deployed, exposing the three spacecraft to space.
After deploying from the second stage, the fairing halves drifted to their apogee (highest point) before beginning their journey back through Earth’s atmosphere. This is the most ambitious attempt at fairing recovery yet so far, with the fairings speeding through the atmosphere at 15 times the speed of sound, according to SpaceX. Following their harrowing journey through the atmosphere, the fairings deploy a parachute and land gently into the Atlantic Ocean. Hopefully, sometime in the future, SpaceX will share a video from the recovery boat showing the two fairing halves blazing through the atmosphere and creating that beautiful plasma trail.
Stationed more than 1,200 miles from Florida, its furthest trip yet, fairing recovery ship Doug, named after the Demo-2 crew member Doug Hurley, was ready and waiting to retrieve the fairings from the ocean. We don’t yet know if one fairing half was recovered or both, but when the recovery ship returns to Port Canaveral, we will get our first glimpse at the fairings who did their best shooting star impersonations as they flew through the atmosphere.