• ThomasLMatula

    Dumb question. If it’s light enough for a helicopter to lift why not just use a helicopter to catch it and lower it to the boat? The probability of success will be much higher as helicopters are faster, more agile and would be able to make multiple attempts.

  • Paul_Scutts

    It’s what I have been saying all along, Thomas, at times I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. 🙂 Regards, Paul.

  • AdmBenson

    The fairing moves a lot faster than the boat, so it needs to guide its’ own way into the net rather than the other way around. Basically, they need a steerable parachute with more control authority than they currently use.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Doable, but cheaper not to. Running a pair of helos over open ocean for every mission is expensive.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Here’s my dumb question. It’s a square chute, I assume it has two and a half degrees of motion control. Left, right, and down-dot. Why is the chute leading the boat such that the boat is playing catch up? I’d assume the trick is to have the chute circle in a volume of space behind the ship, and have the chute/fairing approach from the rear while the boat zeroes out the relative velocity and chute drops the fairing into the net.

  • Paul_Scutts

    Cheaper, MSA, only if they can consistently, with minimal risk, recover the fairing halves by that method. I’ve never believed they could because of too many unknowns. The helos would be stationed on the ship, take to flight, make their captures and return to the vessel. Not as cheap, but, certainly has the possibility to be made to be cost effective. Regards, Paul.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    The fairings only cost around 5-6 millions dollars, the recover needs to be cheap or not at all. I think they will find that landing in the water is good enough for most cases as long as the pickup is quick and seas are calm.

  • ThomasLMatula

    It is still cheaper than losing a faring. And the Helicopters could simply operate from a larger ship since speed is no longer needed.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Large ships are not cheap or cheap to operate. Helicopters (plural) are not cheap or cheap to operate. This is an obvious technique and the only reason to avoid it is cost.

  • duheagle

    Most helicopters have surprisingly limited range. The fairings are recovered from even further offshore than the 1st stage boosters. Some of the big Navy and Marine copters have enough legs, but I’m dubious that any smaller ones do.

  • duheagle

    Given the rotor circles of two helos, plus enough margin to keep them from tangling, you’d be looking at quite a big ship. Even deploying and recovering them serially, rather than together, you’d need something at least the size of an ASDS. If one actually used a second ASDS, one would also need at least another tug and maybe a second crew service vessel as well.

  • duheagle

    They’re worth $5 or 6 million a pair. They don’t cost SpaceX anywhere near that much to build.

  • duheagle

    Not so sure about the relative velocities of the boat and fairings under parasail. Mr. Steven’s specs say he’ll do 32 knots. That’s about as fast as an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    They are worth 0$ to everyone besides SpaceX who have the rocket to go underneath. There is no market price for fairings that can’t be used external to the entity that makes them. Musk was quoting the approximate cost, not price.

  • carlose

    Catching it by helicopter is dangerous. Very dangerous.
    And the only reason they are trying to catch it before it hits the water is to keep it dry.
    Musk is coming around to the idea of just water proofing the electronics in them and washing them off after a simple water recovery.

  • ThomasLMatula

    A simply tow a barge that is big enough for the Helicopters. Or just send the helicopters from shore and simply refuel them from the ship just before the recovery.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTub450BT6k

  • ThomasLMatula

    Then find an old surplus C-130 and use it to do the catch. The fairing should fit inside the rear cargo door.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Recovery from water would be the best solution. But others have shown its possible to do mid-air recoveries using helicopters.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LhBG-J7PDU

  • duheagle

    Nothing you’ve said here invalidates any of my objections. In fact, they are reinforced. Any barge still needs to be big enough to safely have both helos on deck at the same time. If an actual barge is used, it requires, as I already noted, a tug to get it into approximate position. If the barge has refueling equipment aboard, it must also have a crew put aboard to operate same, thus another crew service vessel is needed as also previously noted. In short, one needs a flotilla that matches that currently needed to recover 1st stages. For 1st stages, the expense of sorties by said flotilla is obviously justified. For fairing catching, I have serious doubts.

  • duheagle

    No he wasn’t. He was quoting the pro rata part of the $62 million price of a Falcon 9 mission attributable to the fairings. The fairings are worth $5 – 6 million to SpaceX because, if recovered, that’s what SpaceX gets to charge the next customer that uses them.

    But the recovery expense has to be appreciably less than the production expense in order for recovery to make sense from the standpoint of internal SpaceX economics. If recovery isn’t appreciably less expensive, overall, than new fabrication, then the nod would have to go to new fabrication over recovery.

    I estimate that a pair of fairing halves probably costs somewhere in the mid-six figures to fabricate. I base this on comparisons to the actual selling prices of other high-value objects – luxury yachts – built on carbon fiber hulls that are as large or larger than F9 fairing halves and backward extrapolating their costs of production based on what I know about the markups typical of luxury goods.

    If F9 fairing halves actually cost $5 – 6 million a pair, then the whole F9 would cost SpaceX about as much to make as it actually sells for and SpaceX would be operating at a loss – which it definitely isn’t.

  • duheagle

    That might work for one fairing half on each mission. But not even the CIA/NRO ever tried catching two Corona capsules on a single mission. The overall success rate of those Corona capsule recoveries wasn’t that great anyway. And those puppies were a lot smaller and a lot better behaved in the air than fairing halves.

  • duheagle

    That was done barely offshore, not hundreds of kilometers offshore. The target object was also about a third the length and a fifth the width of an F9 fairing half. Relative masses are impossible to guess, but the copters aren’t very large so I’m guessing the target mass wasn’t very large either. And the target was a cylinder. Cylinders are a lot more predictable and better behaved falling thru the air than are hollow half-cylindrical shells with one open and one closed end.

    A nicely produced promotional video, but it has about as much applicability to recovering F9 fairing halves as the supersonic vulture in The Giant Claw.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Which is why the real solution is to have fairings that return with the upper stage as in Starship. It makes you wonder why Elon Musk is even fooling with trying to recover them given the economics of it are marginal at best.

  • Saturn1300

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hwbmJLM3_g
    My browsers will not show the twittter videos Doug. How about putting up the You Tube. These boat people are just bad. They overshot the fairing. Poor throttle people. Steering too.

  • Saturn1300

    No, the boat is faster. If you can not play the video go to You tube. They go past it. 1 shot. Yes,RC would work.

  • carlose

    Possible does not mean best or safest.
    As soon as he sees a helo crash doing this maneuver he will change his mind.

    In fact what if the faring misses the net but crashes into the boat? You just ruined it.
    What if both halves crash together during flight?

    If they can leave the fairings out in the rain then they are not too worried about water damaging them from the outside.

    We used to capture film canisters like this with planes. We list several canisters that way and endangered many flight crews doing it. All because we didn’t want to land them in the American desert.

  • duheagle

    Good question. Perhaps Elon will, at some point, decide this particular enthusiasm of his is too problematical or uneconomic at the achievable success rate and abandon the whole effort. But I think the apply-suitable-waterproofing-and-just-fish-them-out-of-the-drink solution is most likely to be used long-term. A bit of whimsy will go out of the world if Mr. Steven loses his big yellow net, but that’s engineering for you.