Whoa! Incredible Video Shows a SpaceX Rocket Fairing Plunging into the Ocean

It's a long way down as a rocket and its fairing part ways during a launch. An incredible video shows that journey for the nose cone SpaceX will reuse during its next Falcon 9 launch.

SpaceX is pushing its reusability even further, as the company plans to refly that rocket piece for the first time on its next mission, on Monday (Nov. 11). The California-based company will refly a payload fairing, which is used to protect a spacecraft during launch as the rocket is blasting through the atmosphere. "The fairing supporting this mission previously flew on Falcon Heavy's Arabsat-6A mission," SpaceX said in a tweet sharing footage of the fairing's previous voyage.

The video shows the view from one-half of the fairing above Earth as the fairing separated from the Arabsat-6A communications satellite in April. As that spacecraft blasts away, the fairing camera shows the disk of Earth shining in the distance. The fairing gently rotates, flapping slightly and offering the camera a view of the sun, the blackness of space and Earth once more.

Related: SpaceX's 1st Starlink Megaconstellation Launch in Photos!

The view from a SpaceX rocket fairing as it falls to Earth. (Image credit: SpaceX)

During the Arabsat-6A launch, both fairing halves safely splashed down in the ocean and were retrieved. They will fly again on SpaceX's Starlink 1 mission, in which 60 Starlink satellites will fly to space from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

SpaceX has made rocket reusability its priority, working for years to safely land its Falcon 9 rocket booster consistently on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. The company's success rate has been increasing over the years, making it easier for the company to reuse these boosters.

SpaceX also uses boosters for its Falcon Heavy rocket, like the one this fairing last flew on. (SpaceX uses identical fairings on both rockets.) The Falcon Heavy is designed to have a reusable core and two reusable boosters. The core lands on the drone ship, while the boosters touch down near the launch site.

You can watch the Falcon 9 launch 60 Starlink satellites live on SpaceX's YouTube channel or here at Space.com. The 11-minute launch window is currently scheduled to open on Nov. 11 at 9:51 a.m. EST (1451 GMT).

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.  

All About Space Holiday 2019

Need more space? Subscribe to our sister title "All About Space" Magazine for the latest amazing news from the final frontier! (Image credit: All About Space)

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace