Today was the momentous SpaceX launch that included two demo Starlink satellites that will beam “hello world” when they pass near Los Angeles tomorrow around 9:15 a.m. Eastern. Enthusiasts were also very interested in the Falcon 9’s new fairing and whether either half was successfully recovered. Unfortunately, the recovery boat Mr. Steven did not successfully catch the fairing. But at least one half did appear to have landed in the water relatively unscathed.
Elon Musk shared the photo above on Instagram and wrote: “Falcon fairing half as seen from our catcher’s mitt in boat form, Mr. Steven. No apparent damage from reentry and splashdown.” That’s pretty impressive, considering how far the fairing half had to travel.
Today’s launch included another attempt at returning at least half of the fairing to Earth. A possible reason for it to land with so little damage is that SpaceX might have attempted parachutes to slow the halves’ fall, guiding them near the recovery boat called Mr. Steven, NASA Spaceflight reported.
So far, recovering the fairing has proven “surprisingly difficult,” Elon Musk said before the spaceflight. As the fairing halves approach Mr. Steven, the boat is supposed to use four large metal arms to recover the fairing, almost like a giant catcher’s mitt. So far this hasn’t been attempted successfully. Today, the boat missed by a few hundred meters, but the fairing landed intact in the water, Musk tweeted. With slightly bigger chutes to slow the descent, they should be able to catch the fairing, he proposed.
What worked exactly as planned was the deployment of the two Starlink demo satellites, called Tinitin A and B. They will attempt to beam “hello world” around 9 a.m. Eastern tomorrow when they pass near Los Angeles, Musk tweeted.
Starlink is an ambitious plan by SpaceX to launch up to 12,000 satellites into space and create a high-speed, global Internet for the entire world. Starlink is the current name for this plan, trademarked by SpaceX in late August 2017. The entire project could be up and running by 2024, if the current timeline holds.