SpaceX is Playing a Game of Catch

When items go into space it is usually accepted that some items are not coming back for use in another mission. SpaceX is trying to change this by setting up a simple recovery system. They may not recover large amounts of items, or any at all. The effort, however, is a big deal in a world where everything is disposable. The giant net is spread out over a large watercraft and is attached to arms that look like claws.

SpaceX has recovered items after a launch before, and hopes to catch the payload fairings, or nose-cone halves, after the recent launch of the Falcon Heavy. The recovery of these items has the potential to save the company about five million dollars every time a launch is made. The March 2017 launch actually used a Falcon 9 rocket over again, after recovery. The net used to catch the material is set up on a vessel called Mr. Steven.

Mr. Steven is a part of an entire fleet with names such as Mr. Mason and Miss Claire. The entire vessel is 205 feet long and reaches travel speeds up to 32 knots. The net rests on the deck, which is 136’ by 27’. The starting location for this adventure is southwest of Los Angeles near the island of Catalina. SpaceX has fitted the payload fairing of the planned launch on February 21 with a geotagged parachute. This is supposed to help direct the payload fairing to the Pacific Ocean. Once it is on its way back to earth, the Mr. Steven is ready and waiting to catch it. Innovative ideas like this can not only save money, but reduce waste. The use of recovered items can help to save time, as well. Less time between missions may be possible due to the fact that an entirely new payload fairing does not have to be built from the ground up.