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During the SpaceX launch of the CRS-10, at T+3:12, there is a circular grey object that passes through the frame. What is this?

enter image description here

Launch Webcast

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It looks like the Dragon v1 nose cone which protects the CBM port of the spacecraft similarly to payload fairings on satellite launches. Dragon with nose cone installed

Picture from article by Ken Kremer

There are two other covers (which are actually called fairings) on the Dragon spacecraft during launch that protect the solar arrays, but these are not circular and they are only released after orbital insertion right before the arrays deploy.

The cone is being released at the altitude of ~114 km which is very similar to where "normal" payload fairings are released on other launches (at that altitude the atmospheric drag does not posses danger to the structures anymore). Thanks @uhoh for this part

enter image description here

Credit SpaceX webcast

The nose cone will be a bit different for the Dragon v2 where they designed it to open and close on hinges, so it will not be thrown away but will be brought back to Earth instead.

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  • $\begingroup$ Another view i.stack.imgur.com/S0Quf.jpg from here $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 19 '17 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ This is much better: cnet.com/uk/pictures/… $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 19 '17 at 15:40
  • $\begingroup$ @uhoh thank you! I prefer your first one as it shows the complete picture (even together with the solar array fairing). $\endgroup$ – jkavalik Feb 19 '17 at 15:43

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