To understand the purpose of this odd looking ship docked at Port Canaveral is to recognize that rocket fairings cost upwards of $6 million a piece. Until recently these important covers of the Falcon 9 rocket’s payload, protecting the payload through the thicker parts of the Earth’s atmosphere as the rocket roared upward, were simply allowed to crash at their own leisure into the ocean once they were jettisoned as the rocket moved up out of the thickest part of the Earth’s atmosphere; their job done. SpaceX has decided there must be a cost-saving way to retrieve and reuse these rocket fairings, hence was born this ship. Originally known as Mr. Steven, its move to a new owner sees it joining the East coast SpaceX fleet as Go Ms. Tree. The nets strung out between the long arms are meant to catch the gently falling fairings, which SpaceX has equipped with parachutes and thrusters to ease the way down into the atmosphere to a gentle landing in the net as the ship maneuvers below to receive it. Alas, only one real catch can be attributed to Ms. Tree so far with the others landing in the ocean, but, with trial and error, we should not be surprised to see more successes in the future.
Note in the image above can be seen along the horizon the External Fuel Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters standing outside the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex along with cranes and one of the massive hangers under construction at the Blue Origin rocket factory.
Categories: Space Age Bulletins