Most rocket launches these days experience payload fairing separation — when the shell-like nose cone pops off the rocket. But the one that SpaceX recently shared on YouTube is slightly different.
The SpaceX video captures the precise moment of the separation of the payload fairing from the rocket. It's an exciting view.
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In the video you see the two halves of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket's fairing pulling apart from the booster's upper stage during its recent launch for its Starlink mission.
The mission sent up 60 Starlink satellites on June 3 from the Space Launch Complex 40 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, with 60 more being deployed tomorrow, June 13th.
It's a short, but exhilarating, nine-second clip that unveils the towering stack of Starlink satellites once the fairings have separated from the rocket. You then catch an ethereal glimpse of Earth's atmosphere with blueish hues in the background.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 payload fairings are 13 meters (43 feet) tall, and a little over 5 meters (17 feet) wide. When they're put together, they form a shell-like casing around the satellite payloads that protects them during the first few minutes of the launch.
Around three minutes after liftoff, the fairing halves separate.
In order to reuse some of these fairings over a number of space flights, SpaceX has placed steering thrusters and parachutes on them. Then, SpaceX catches them in the ocean by using giant nets on two retrieval ships: Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief.
The fairings alone cost around $6 million, as per Elon Musk, the company's CEO and founder. So being able to reuse them over multiple flights, which Starlink's mission plans to do, is crucial in order to save some dollars on equipment. So far, the company has reused three fairing halves.
SpaceX has so far launched 482 Starlink satellites over eight missions into Space, and the plan is for 12,000 of them to be up in orbit in the coming years so as to provide fast internet for hard-to-reach areas around the world.