In mid-May, SpaceX posted a video of a vacuum chamber test conducted on its Falcon 9 fairing. The slow motion view of the bus-sized fairing smoothly separating to reveal its payload is a slightly mesmerizing presentation of a movement that occurs with blinding speed in real life. Fairing separation accidents can scuttle an entire mission even after a flawless launch, so these up close perspectives are critical to ensuring mission success. SpaceX has been particularly effective at using video feeds to monitor their launches in real time, but even SpaceX can’t get this kind of surround-imaging in space.
The test of the 17 m long, 5 m wide fairing was conducted inside the world’s largest vacuum chamber at NASA’s Plum Brook Station facility at Glenn Research Center.