GO Ms. Chief – often shortened to Ms. Chief – is one of two fairing recovery ships chartered by SpaceX. Ms. Chief is constructed near identically to twin Ms. Tree. Both ships are fast, highly maneuverable vessels that were originally designed for oil rig crew transport in the Gulf of Mexico. The name ‘Ms. Chief’ is a pun of the word ‘Mischief’.
Owner: SEACOR Marine
Operator: Guice Offshore
Year Built: 2014
Joined SpaceX Fleet: 2019
SpaceX has been working on its fairing recovery program since 2016. In 2017, SpaceX charted Ms. Tree and installed a large net onto it. Ms. Tree would then try to position herself underneath a falling fairing and catch it in the net before it hit the water. It took until mid-2019 for the program to yield a successful catch. Following this success, in August 2019 SpaceX charted Ms. Chief – a ship that was near identical to Ms. Tree.
During recovery operations, two recovery ships are required to be able to catch both fairing halves because the halves descend at the same time in different locations. Prior to Ms. Chief, Ms. Tree would try to catch one fairing half and then go hunting for the other, which would hopefully be floating on the ocean surface nearby.
Ms. Chief had a difficult introduction to mission operations. During her debut mission in November 2019, the vessel encountered heavy seas and was forced to abandon the recovery attempt because engineers were concerned about the structural integrity of the net system. On her first full mission – JCSAT-18 – the vessel suffered some minor damage to her net structure and was taken out of service for a few weeks whilst repairs were made.
Ms. Chief has made a handful of attempts at catching a fairing half. The ship caught a fairing half for the first time during the ANASIS-II mission on July 20th, 2020.
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