SpaceX will once again attempt to retrieve both sections of its Falcon 9 rocket nose cone, as the launch vehicle falls back toward Earth from space, the company announced on Monday.
Musk’s company has achieved some success in retrieving debris, but the upcoming launch will mark the first time SpaceX will try to retrieve both parts of the nose cone, according to The Daily Mail.
The cost of the missile nose cone, which gives the launch vehicle its aerodynamic shape while protecting the cargo from excessive heat, is high enough to justify the added effort, with Falcon 9’s nose cone price set at about $6 million.
“Imagine you had $6 million in cash in a palette flying through the air, and it’s going to smash into the ocean,” Musk said last year. “Would you try to recover that? Yes. Yes, you would.”
The company combines various measures to retrieve the pieces. At sea level, a ship drags a net at a determined location. In the atmosphere, the nose cone - with a parachute - employs on-board thrusters allowing a degree of maneuverability. If successful, the operation will result in a nicely-caught piece of a spaceship. If not, $6 million will either be drowned or the ship’s crane will be broken crane. As of June, attempts at nose cone recovery had been unsuccessful. After several attempts, SpaceX conceded that they would need a bigger net, according to The Daily Mail.
The historic Monday night launch will deliver a Boeing communications satellite into orbit. If Musk’s firm succeeds in its attempt, it will mark a major milestone toward a fully-recoverable spacecraft, according to the report.