Menu Close

GO Ms. Chief

GO Ms. Chief arriving at Port Canaveral - Kyle Montgomery

GO Ms. Chief – often shortened to Ms. Chief – is one of two fairing catcher recovery ships that were chartered by SpaceX until April 2021. SpaceX is no longer attempting to catch payload fairings and Ms. Chief has been retired from SpaceX operations.

Ms. Chief was constructed near identically to twin Ms. Tree. Both ships are fast, highly maneuverable vessels that were originally built for oil rig crew transport in the Gulf of Mexico. The name ‘Ms. Chief’ is a pun of the word ‘Mischief’.

Vital Statistics

Owner: SEACOR Marine

Operator: Guice Offshore

Year Built: 2014

IMO: 9744453

Length: 62.5m

Width: 10.4m

Joined SpaceX Fleet: 2019

Retired from SpaceX Fleet: 2021

Full Specification Sheet.

SpaceX has been developing the fairing recovery program since 2016. In 2017, SpaceX chartered Ms. Tree and installed a large net onto the vessel. 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 fairing catch operations, two recovery ships were required to be able to catch both halves because each descended at the same time in different locations. Prior to Ms. Chief, Ms. Tree would attempt to catch one fairing half and then go hunting for the other, which would hopefully be floating on the ocean surface nearby.

Ms. Chief Arm Installation - Greg Scott

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 returns from a mission with a fairing recovered from the water (Under blue tarp) - Kyle Montgomery

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. 

Retirement from SpaceX

Throughout 2020, SpaceX was not always attempting to catch the fairing half and instead opting to go straight for wet recovery, a process where the fairing is allowed to gracefully land on the ocean surface and is then lifted onto the recovery ship. This method often proved more reliable and less high-risk than catch attempts – which occasionally ended with significant damage to fairings and the catcher ships. 

With a lack of catching reliability, SpaceX decided to abandon the catching program and opted to conduct wet recovery by default. GO Searcher and GO Navigator took on the responsibility of fairing recovery in March 2021 and Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief were slowly de-rigged of all SpaceX equipment – a process that itself took well over a month to complete. SpaceX made significant upgrades to both ships, including the catching structure, computer systems, communications, and rigging

A new fairing recovery ship, Shelia Bordelon, was contracted in March 2021 to take on the sole responsibility of fairing recovery for an interim period.

Ms. Chief completed final decommissioning work and departed from Port Canaveral, retiring from SpaceX operations, on April 12th, 2021. 

Missions

MissionRole
Starlink V1 L19Fairing Recovery
Starlink V1 L18Fairing Recovery
Transporter-1Fairing Recovery
Starlink V1 L16Fairing Recovery
Turksat-5AFairing Recovery
Starlink V1 L15Fairing Recovery
GPS III SV04Fairing Recovery
Starlink V1 L14Fairing Recovery
Starlink V1 L13Fairing Recovery
Starlink V1 L12Fairing Recovery
Starlink V1 L11Fairing Recovery
SAOCOM 1BFairing Recovery
Starlink V1 L10Fairing Recovery
Starlink V1 L9Fairing Recovery
ANASIS-IIFairing Recovery
GPS III SV03Fairing Recovery
Starlink V1 L8Fairing Recovery
Starlink V1 L7Fairing Recovery
Starlink V1 L6Fairing Recovery
Starlink V1 L5Fairing Recovery
Starlink V1 L4Fairing Recovery
JCSAT-18 / Kacific-1Fairing Recovery
Starlink V1 L2Fairing Recovery

For the outcome of each mission, click here.