PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. – Guests and workers at Port Canaveral watched Thursday as SpaceX's Ms. Tree ship returned with a cargo it's never brought back before.
SpaceX now calls its rocket nose cone catching ship, equipped with a giant net, GO Ms. Tree, and Thursday it carried a Falcon Heavy fairing, which it caught after Tuesday's launch, through the Port channel.
The fairing, estimated to cost a few million dollars, was on deck wrapped under a blue tarp.
In five such attempts during previous missions, the ship, formerly named Mr. Steven, did not have the same success. The vessel was recently renamed after a new company took over the boat's ownership.
For the past two years, on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, SpaceX tested using the ship to recover the rocket hardware after launch. The California-based company led by Elon Musk has previously recovered fairings from the Atlantic Ocean after launch but those were not caught using the fairing catcher vessel.
SpaceX is the first company to attempt and succeed at recovering rocket fairings after launch.
The unusual sight at the Port on Thursday was exciting for crowds watching from across the channel.
One family of SpaceX fans told News 6 they came all the way from the Czech Republic.
Tuesday morning at Jetty Park, Miroslav Pospisil watched his first rocket launch.
"It was fantastic," he said.
Pospisil said the sonic booms were his favorite part of the experience, but he also wanted to see the boat Ms. Tree and the nose cone.
"We feel that SpaceX is leading this trend as the most innovative company in this field," he said.
Musk's company already recovers its rocket boosters from Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets and relaunches the hardware, reducing the cost of launch for its customers.
SpaceX also landed Falcon Heavy's two side boosters back at Cape Canaveral after Tuesday's launch for the Department of Defense. It was the third Falcon Heavy launch and the first using previously flown rocket boosters.