Broken Payload Fairings from 12th SpaceX Starlink Launch Return to Port Canaveral: Photos

Broken Payload Fairings from 12th SpaceX Starlink Launch Return to Port Canaveral: Photos
SpaceX fairing recovery ship GO Ms. Tree arrives into Port Canaveral, FL at 2 p.m. ET Sept. 4, 2020 carrying broken bits of a payload fairing half hauled from the Atlantic Ocean waters. From the 12th Starlink launch on Sept. 3. GO Ms. Tree arrived first followed by Go Ms. Chief. Both ships still rigged with catcher nets. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

PORT CANAVERAL, FL – Alas it was not to be – as only broken bits of the payload fairing halves from the 12th SpaceX Starlink launch on Thursday morning, Sept. 3  this week were recovered by the SpaceX fleet and returned to Port Canaveral a day later Friday afternoon, Sept. 4.

SpaceX had not made any comment about the state of the two fairings halves recovery by their fleet of twin nose cone catcher boats GO Ms. Tree and GO Ms. Chief following Thursday’s launch.

But it quickly became obvious to me and other media colleagues that the fairings were not only not intact – but that only smaller busted pieces and shards were actually retrieved from the Atlantic Ocean waters by both ships when they arrived back at Port Canaveral Friday afternoon around 2 p.m. ET Sept. 4.

Nevertheless SpaceX still deserves an ‘A’ for effort as no other rocket company even tries such a feat yet.

SpaceX fairing recovery ship GO Ms. Tree arrives into Port Canaveral, FL at 2 p.m. ET Sept. 4, 2020 carrying broken bits of a payload fairing half hauled from the Atlantic Ocean waters. From the 12th Starlink launch on Sept. 3. GO Ms. Tree arrived first followed by Go Ms. Chief. Both ships still rigged with catcher nets. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

As the twins arrived home GO Ms. Tree and GO Ms. Chief were still fully rigged with their catchers mitt nets and the fairing bits comprising only a small portion of the total were recovered on deck and held inside the secondary nets – which scooped them from the ocean waters.

Check out my Space UpClose photos detailing all the action.

SpaceX fairing recovery ship GO Ms. Chief arrives into Port Canaveral, FL after 2 p.m. ET Sept. 4, 2020 carrying broken bits of a payload fairing half hauled from the Atlantic Ocean waters. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.. GO Ms. Tree arrived first followed by Go Ms. Chief. Both ships still rigged with catcher nets. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
UpClose view as SpaceX fairing recovery ship GO Ms. Chief arrives into Port Canaveral, FL after 2 p.m. ET Sept. 4, 2020 carrying broken bits of a payload fairing half hauled from the Atlantic Ocean waters. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. GO Ms. Tree arrived first followed by Go Ms. Chief. Both ships still rigged with catcher nets. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The dynamic duo sailed past Jetty Park Pier one by one into Port Canaveral channel separated by more than five minutes – rather than in a caravan almost immediately behind one another as is often but not always the case.

Both SpaceX fairing recovery ships GO Ms. Tree and Go Ms. Chief arrive into Port Canaveral, FL at 2 p.m. ET Sept. 4, 2020 carrying broken bits of payload fairing halves hauled from the Atlantic Ocean waters. From the 12th Starlink launch on Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Both ships still rigged with catcher nets. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

This situation is in start contrast to the last several fairing recovery attempts were we saw not only the full nose cone halves recovered – but also that they wewre seeming intact. At last from our view across the channel.

Two technician push 13 meter (43 foot) long recovered payload fairing half mounted on two cradles with rollers into processing hangar at Port Canaveral just hours after return to Port Canaveral on Go Ms. Tree on Sept. 1, 2020. From SpaceX Falcon 9 polar orbit launch of Saocom 1B radarsat for Argentina on Aug. 30 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Check out my earlier fairing recovery articles and photos from this past month for example.

Recovered intact payload fairing halves mounted on two cradles on two transport vehicles drive to processing hangar at Port Canaveral just hours after return to Port Canaveral on Go Ms. Tree on Sept. 1, 2020. From SpaceX Falcon 9 polar orbit launch of Saocom 1B radarsat for Argentina on Aug. 30 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The Starlink mission began with space enthusiasts being treated to a beautiful breakfast time blastoff with bountiful water reflections amounting to what looked like two Falcon 9s launching simultaneously in opposite directions from many locations ringing the Florida Space Coast for Thursday’s weather delayed liftoff of a ‘flight-proven’ Falcon on Sept. 3 that was originally supposed to open a historic double header of recycled SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage launches on Sunday, Aug, 30 – carrying the next batch of Starlink internet relay satellites to orbit.

Back side view: SpaceX Falcon 9 liftoff at 8:46 a.m. ET Sept. 3, 2020 from Launch Complex-39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida on 12th Starlink internet comsat launch. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Thus overall Thursday’s liftoff was the second Falcon 9 to rocket away in 4 days!

Nine Merlin 1D engines ignited at the appointed time and the 1x recycled Falcon 9 soared to space Thursday, September 3 at 8:46 a.m. EDT (1246 GMT) for launch of SpaceX’s twelfth Starlink mission carrying 60 Starlink broadband satellites to low earth orbit from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Approximately eight minutes later the Falcon 9’s first stage booster B1060.2 on its second flight relit a subset of its engines and soft landed on the ocean going “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship platform – already waiting in the Atlantic Ocean.

Fairing & Fowl In Flight ! Man-made recovered intact payload fairing half hoisted off GO Ms. Chief fairing catcher as nature-made pelican flies by. After 5x recycled Falcon 9 1st stage from SpaceX 10th Starlink launch berths at Port Canaveral north pier atop the OCISLY droneship on Aug. 10, 2020. All from launch Aug. 7, 2020, LC-39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The booster is expected back Sunday. Watch for our upcoming story and photos.

The Starlink satellites were deployed approximately 14 minutes after liftoff to an initial orbit about 130 miles (210 km) and 210 miles (340 km) above Earth – and on-target inclined about 53 degrees to the equator.

“Deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed,” SpaceX tweeted with this video replay:

SpaceX says you can sign up to receive updates on Starlink news and service availability in your area. Please visit starlink.com.

The Starlink team is “still in the beginning stages of our global space-based Internet constellation” said Kate Tice, a SpaceX engineer during the company’s live launch webcast Thursday.

“We are well into our first phase of testing with our private beta program with plans to roll out a public beta later this year,” Tice said.

“Falcon 9 launches 60 Starlink satellites to orbit – Starlink will deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable → starlink.com”

https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/1301545239971127301

The two stage Falcon 9 rocket stands 229 feet (70 meters) tall.

My prelaunch photos from pad 39A were featured at WKMG CBS 6 TV News Orlando

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Commercial Crew and Artemis and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Demo-2, Starlink, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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