Everything went as planned for the second flight of the Falcon Heavy. The satellite was put into orbit, the side boosters returned to Florida and set up shortly after in their airfields. The central stage, which crashed into the sea on the last flight, successfully landed on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” and then tipped over.
The Internet magazine The Verge said a spokesman for SpaceX that the ship previously fell into rough seas with three-meter-high waves. The rocket stage began to move and eventually toppled over. According to Elon Musk, the lower part of the rocket stage remained on board and is still largely intact. The same happened after a landing in May 2016 , albeit with a happier ending.
Since then, SpaceX has built a wheeled robot called Octagrabber. It can be anchored to the ship deck after connecting to the so-called Octaweb, the engine mounts with one engine in the middle and eight more around it. This can prevent the rocket stage from moving during heavy waves. After all, the waves on the North Atlantic can still be much higher than three meters.
However, the engine mount of the Falcon Heavy’s central stage has to withstand much higher loads than the Falcon 9 because it enters the earth’s atmosphere at a higher speed. The necessary modifications to the Octagrabber SpaceX had not yet done. For the next flight of the Falcon Heavy was already a new rocket stage ready, so there should be no delays in the starting plan.
The payload fairing was recovered
Better luck had SpaceX in the recovery of the payload fairing. For the first time, it was possible to land both halves in the sea with a parachute and recover from there. Again, all attempts to catch the disguise when landing in the sea in a net on a ship have failed. It should now be cleaned and worked up. It is said to cost $ 5 million in manufacturing, about one-tenth of the starting price of a Falcon 9.
The payload fairing is a critical part of every mission. It must open reliably and must not jam at the release of the satellite. Last failed in 2017, the launch of Indian navigation satellites. The risk of a used payload fairing is therefore very large for commercial providers and bad for insurance companies, which is why they should first be used in a launch with SpaceX ‘own Starlink satellites.