Watch this SpaceX ship come tantalizingly close to catching rocket parts

watch spacex ship almost catch rockets nose cone in its giant net  mr steven
SpaceX

When you really think about it, isn’t it mind-blowing that SpaceX can land a rocket back on the ground after a mission? Upright.

The private space company, led by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, has pretty much perfected the landing procedure of its first-stage booster for its reusable rocket system. But it’s having a much harder time nailing the process for recovering the fairing, and has yet to pull it off. It is, however, getting tantalizingly close, as this week’s effort shows …

The fairing is the nose cone that protects the payload during launch, and SpaceX has built a ship called Mr. Steven for catching it. Yes, we said “catch.” You see, Mr. Steven is basically a ship with a massive net over the top of it, and its job is to sail into position to save one of the two fairing parts from landing in the sea. To be clear, the cone comes down in two sections, with the team currently focusing on perfecting the catching process for one part while fishing the other half out of the sea. Once it has perfected the system, SpaceX is expected to invest in a second ship.

The impact and briny ocean water can damage the fairing, and seeing as it costs around $6 million to make one from scratch, SpaceX is understandably keen to use it more than once.

Mr. Steven, which is 62 meters long and 10 meters wide, has yet to catch the fairing despite several trial runs and three attempts during actual SpaceX missions. To improve its chances of catching the fairing, the team last year increased the size of Mr. Steven’s net by around four times, so it now it covers an area of about 3,700 square meters.

The fairing as a whole is around 13 meters tall and 5 meters wide, and tips the scales at a hefty 1,000 kilograms. SpaceX has equipped each of the two sections with cold nitrogen thrusters to help them stabilize during their descent. The system then deploys a GPS-equipped, steerable parafoil (something like a parachute) at around 5 miles above sea level. This slows it down enough for Mr. Steven to get into position, but the final seconds of the operation are proving tricky.

As you can see from the video above, the latest test out in the Pacific this week came very close to working out. The fairing even touches the edge of the net before sliding away and falling into the sea. But considering that its very first effort missed by a distance of several hundred meters, the team is clearly making good progress.

Emerging Tech

The grid of the future will be powered by … giant subterranean bagpipes?

In order to transition to a more renewable-focused energy system, we need to scale up our grid storage capacity --- and our existing methods aren't going to cut it. Could compressed air be the key?
Movies & TV

First reactions say that Avengers: Endgame will make you laugh and cry

The events of Avengers: Infinity War changed the Marvel Cinematic Universe in some big ways and left fans wondering how its heroes can possibly recover. Here's everything we know about Avengers: Endgame, the sequel to Infinity War.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX experiences problem during test, Crew Dragon capsule may have exploded

SpaceX has experienced a problem during the testing of its Crew Dragon capsule. During the engine test firing at Cape Canaveral yesterday afternoon, an unspecified anomaly occurred which lead to plumes of smoke rising from the test site.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Emerging Tech

Gravitational forces at heart of Milky Way shaped this star cluster like a comet

Hubble has captured the stunning Messier 62 cluster. The cluster is warped, with a long tail which stretches out to form a shape like a comet. It is thought this distortion is due to Messier 62's proximity to the center of the galaxy.
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?
Emerging Tech

Troubleshooting Earth

It’s no secret that humans are killing the planet. Some say it’s actually so bad that we’re hurtling toward a sixth major extinction event -- one which we ourselves are causing. But can technology help us undo the damage we’ve…
Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.
Emerging Tech

Climeworks wants to clean the atmosphere with a fleet of truck-sized vacuums

Using machines that resemble jet engines, Climeworks wants to fight climate change by extracting CO2 from thin air. The gas can then be sold to carbonated drink and agriculture companies, or sequestered underground.
Emerging Tech

How 3D printing has changed the world of prosthetic limbs forever

When he was 13 years old, Christophe Debard had his leg amputated. Here in 2019, Debard's Print My Leg startup helps others to create 3D-printed prostheses. Welcome to a growing revolution!
Emerging Tech

Geoengineering is risky and unproven, but soon it might be necessary

Geoengineering is a field dedicated to purposely changing the world's climate using technology. Call it 'playing god' if you must; here's why its proponents believe it absolutely must happen.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Earth Day, indoor container farming, robot submarines

Today on Digital Trends Live, we discuss how technology intersects with Earth Day, a new Tim Cook biography, indoor container farming, robot spy submarines, A.I. death metal, and more.
Gaming

Google’s Stadia is the future of gaming, and that’s bad news for our planet

Google’s upcoming Stadia cloud gaming service, and its competitors, are ready to change the way gamers play, but in doing so they may kick off a new wave of data center growth – with unfortunate consequences for the environment.