After several delays, SpaceX was finally able to launch its Falcon Heavy rocket this week, for the second time in its history. The company has also made history by successfully recovering its two side boosters and the central booster, which it has never done before.
Believe it or not, the trio of boosters is not the only thing SpaceX has managed to recover. SpaceX boss Elon Musk revealed on Twitter that the two halves of the spacecraft's nose had also been recovered and would be sent back into space as soon as possible.
SpaceX's business model is based on the ability to reuse extremely expensive hardware. Landing a rocket booster on the ground so that it can be refurbished is one thing, but the recovery of other elements of the spacecraft, such as the tapered fairing, also helps to increase the net result of SpaceX.
Unfortunately, the half fairings proved difficult to recover. The aerodynamics of nosecone halves is minimal and SpaceX has been testing different methods for recovering them for several months. The company tried to catch them, but putting his ship equipped with a network in the right position has frustrated their efforts.
For the Falcon Heavy, SpaceX did not recover the fairings but quickly recovered them from the ocean. Seawater is not the best solution for rocket components, but the company is confident it can refurbish the fairings after plunging them into the ocean. Musk says SpaceX plans to reuse fairings when launching its own Starlink satellite mission later this year.
This was the first time that SpaceX had reused the nosecone fairings it was recovering from the ocean, and the company did not talk much about the process or processes it plans to use to give the fairings a second life. We'll see if things will happen later this year, but SpaceX has had a series of victories lately and there is little reason to believe that this will change.