Space X managed to capture footage of a rocket fairing on camera, just before it plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean, providing Earth with incredible images of the casing's fall.
On Tuesday, SpaceX posted the video on Twitter. The tweet elucidated how friction heated the particles as the object travelled to earth – which explained the blue glow emitted from the casing as it dropped.
View from the fairing during the STP-2 mission; when the fairing returns to Earth, friction heats up particles in the atmosphere, which appear bright blue in the video pic.twitter.com/P8dgaIfUbl— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 3, 2019
The Heavy holds the record of being the highest payload capacity of any existing operational launch vehicle. Parts of the Heavy, however, were to return to Earth.
The protective nose-cone fairing, encasing the satellites from the forces that are incurred when they are launched into space.
The video is a gift for space and rocket enthusiasts, who cheered in response to the glimpse of the payload fairing falling to Earth.
I'm so proud of you team @SpaceX . Happy Independence Day to you and your families!— American Stealth (@RainzWorld) July 4, 2019
The fairing serves as a nose-cone and protective casing as the rocket is lifted into space.
As soon as the rocket penetrates the atmosphere, the casing is no longer needed, so it is jettisoned off the rocket and falls back towards Earth.
The estimated cost of this fragment from the Heavy is around $6 million, making its recovery for re-use financially viable for SpaceX.
It can, however, be extraordinarily difficult to locate such pieces when they fall into the Atlantic Ocean.
After the launch, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk retweeted a video of the falling part being captured in a giant net, attached to a company boat named “Mrs Tree”.
SpaceX modified the vessel, adding four giant beams which hold a giant net to catch falling fairings. Both pieces of the structure include a tracking system which helps them find their way to Earth.
They also include small thrusters and special parachutes called 'parafoils' to ease the nose-cones descent.
SpaceX has been testing the net-capture technique since last year, but until now failed to catch the falling debris.
The simulations seemed to have paid off as they finally managed to capture half of the cone following the actual launch, and claim they have spotted the other half close by.