The Stunning Plasma Trail Left by a Falcon Heavy Rocket Fairing

1 min

SpaceX shared a video showcasing this fascinating phenomenon during the fairing’s re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere

SpaceX recently unveiled spectacular footage of the re-entry of a Falcon Heavy rocket fairing back to Earth. The captivating images are sure to catch the attention of anyone interested in space exploration.

Although the Falcon Heavy launch was delayed multiple times, it finally took off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida last Sunday. The rocket carried a payload of 6,400 kilograms (14,109 lbs), including the first broadband communications satellite, ViaSat 3 Americas. This satellite is part of a new constellation of geostationary satellites designed by Boeing to provide better internet coverage. Not only was the mission successful, but it also produced memorable visuals.

SpaceX explained in a tweet accompanied by an awe-inspiring video of the rocket, “The fairing re-entry on the ViaSat-3 mission was the hottest and fastest we have ever attempted.” The fairings re-entered the atmosphere at over 15 times the speed of sound, leaving a massive trail of plasma in their wake.

The fairing is the Falcon Heavy’s structure that protects the rocket’s payload during the mission. Shortly after the second stage separated from the rocket, the two halves of the fairing were released to expose the payload on board the Falcon Heavy. As the satellites traveling with the rocket were deployed into orbit, the two halves of the fairing gently fell onto the Atlantic Ocean after deploying their parachutes. SpaceX announced that they had successfully recovered both pieces.

One of the keys to SpaceX’s success—and a practice quickly adopted by other aerospace companies—is the reuse of their rocket components. It is, of course, much more cost-effective (and eco-friendly) to recover the pieces rather than build an entirely new rocket. And if we get to see stunning images like these along the way, it’s a beautiful tradition worth continuing.

Like it? Share with your friends!