Just yesterday SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket up into the air as part of sending the South Korean Military Satellite ANASIS-II into orbit.
Today, the company's CEO and co-founder, Elon Musk, shared an uplifting post on Twitter stating they'd successfully caught both halves of the fairing — something that will save SpaceX millions of dollars.
Why is it important to catch these fairings?
The fairing, a two-piece protective cover that goes around cargo being shot off into Space aboard the launch vehicle, is no cheap contraption to develop and make.
SpaceX has been trying and practicing to catch its fairing halves after launches to Space by using its two ships kitted out with special nets made to catch them as they fall back to Earth.
Up until today, SpaceX had only managed to ever catch one half of the fairing. So today marks a jubilant day for the company with Elon Musk sharing the good news on Twitter. Images have yet to be shared but they'll surely follow suit soon.
Both fairing halves caught from space by @SpaceX ships!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 20, 2020
The reason this is such great news is that by catching these fairings, it dramatically reduces the cost for SpaceX's future launches as it can reuse them.
Even though SpaceX has managed to retrieve its past fairings from the ocean, these need considerable repair unless they're directly caught in the boats' nets. Catching them directly saves a lot of time, effort, personnel cost, and risk.
SpaceX estimates that up to $6 million per launch can be saved if catching fairings goes successfully.
It's a tricky catch, though, as the fairings come gently back down to Earth thanks to parachutes without any guidance. It's up to the ships to be in the right spot to anticipate their fall.
SpaceX tries to reuse its equipment as much as possible so as to save costs and any further impact on the environment.