The three photos in SpaceX's recent tweet about attempting to recover the GRACE-FO/Iridium-6 fairing halves included a close-up of the inside of the fairing:

[enter image description here]

What do those black tiles with the silver/metallic edging do? Are they the expensive parts of the fairing, i.e. useful to salvage, or something cheap and replaceable?

N.B. There's an earlier question about an Atlas/X-37 fairing, but those "Lego tiles" look like they're quite different.


1 Answer 1


They are reportedly sound absorbing panels.

The environment inside a fairing as it launches, goes supersonic, and then leaves the atmosphere is apparently not a gentle one, and the panels are designed to control the amount of sound that is transmitted to the payload to some degree.

These also apparently absorb water, which is one of the reasons why the want to catch the fairing before it hits the water for recovery.

  • $\begingroup$ What is the "reportedly" source? Who reported it? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 1, 2018 at 13:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I read it, but cannot recall the source to quote it. $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Jun 1, 2018 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ Did you read it here perhaps? Right now this is more of a comment than a proper SE answer. "I think I heard somewhere that..." Unsourced apparently's are barely comments. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 2, 2018 at 2:43
  • $\begingroup$ Geoffc's answer is correct. (source: I read it somewhere too, I just don't have the time to find it today). The downvote is unwarranted. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Jun 2, 2018 at 6:29

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