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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

SpaceX tried to catch its rocket's nose cone with a giant net -- and just missed

• By Loren Grush

After launching its Falcon 9 rocket from California this morning, SpaceX used a giant net to try to recover the rocket's nose cone as it fell down in the Pacific Ocean. The first-time experiment failed, however: one of the pieces of the nose cone missed the net, which was attached to a ship, and landed intact on the sea surface instead.

Also known as the payload fairing, the nose cone is an earplug-shaped casing that sits on the top of the rocket, shielding the vehicle's payload during launch. Once in space, the fairing breaks apart into two pieces and falls back to Earth. Normally, companies don't recover the pieces of the fairing after a launch, but SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been eager to find a way to save the hardware. "Imagine you had $6 million in cash in a palette flying through the air, and it's going to smash into the ocean," Musk said during a press conference in March 2017. "Would you try to recover that? Yes. Yes, you would."

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