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SpaceX on Tuesday successfully caught the nose cone of its Falcon 9 rocket in a net stretched across a boat in the Atlantic Ocean.
It was just the second time SpaceX has managed to catch the equipment in the net. The payload fairings are the protective nose cones that surround satellites during launch. They cost $6 million each, so it makes sense to try to recover the equipment for reuse.
“Rocket fairing falls from space & is caught by Ms Tree boat,” SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted alongside a video of the fairing dropping into the net.
The fairings use small thrusters and a guidance system to navigate back to Earth, then deploy parachutes for landing. The first successful fairing catch was in June. The latests success may be an indication that SpaceX can start catching the fairings with regularity.
SpaceX’s Tuesday launch was its ninth space mission of the year. The company successfully delivered an Israeli communications satellite into orbit. The Amos-17 is a communications satellite owned by the Israeli company Spacecom.
The first-stage booster used for this mission flew twice before – July 2018 for Telstar 19 and November 2018 for Es’hail 2. SpaceX did not attempt to recover the booster on its third mission.