Falcon 9's first stage can be reused 10 times or even 100 times.

But how about its payload fairings?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The 10/100 numbers are thought experiments and needs to be validated against reality. Current max is 5. Which is great, but still not yet 10. Nor 100. $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ They hope for "up to 10 times without the need for much refurbishment between launches," quotes theverge.com/2019/12/16/21024062/… $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 16:46

1 Answer 1


There is no inherent limit. As long as a fairing can be retrieved, and repaired if necessary from seawater corrosion or landing impact, it can be reflown. A fairing has no parts that wear out due to use per se, like a car tire's tread or an Apollo Command Module's heat shield.

Its steerable parachutes need to be cleaned and repacked after a flight, but they can last a long time:

A properly stored reserve, with few repacks/rides, should be perfectly airworthy 20 years later.
In the United States, the FAA has not imposed any general time-based lifespan on gear. ...
In Poland, it's unlawful to jump any skydiving equipment older than 20 years.

-- https://skydivergearguide.wordpress.com/2017/11/12/reserve_canopies/

It's typical to inspect and recertify a conventional skydiver's reserve chute after 40 repacks or 25 deployments.

So the chutes might last easily a few dozen half-hour flights before needing serious inspection, never mind maintenance.

Its cold gas thrusters need to be refueled after a flight, of course. (See also Do each of the fairing halves now use thrusters post-deployment? How does that work? ) But they seem to be intended for continual reuse, as of 2020 June 16:

Although there has yet to be any official confirmation that Falcon 9 fairings are capable of flying more than twice, there's good reason to believe that the design upgrade that enabled one reuse had some built-in headroom. ...
It took SpaceX some 33 months to go from the first reuse of a Falcon 9 first stage to the second reuse (third flight) of a single booster."

-- https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-next-rocket-fairing-reuse-milestone/

As with many things SpaceX, even they themselves might not know trustworthy numbers until after more actual flights.
  • $\begingroup$ Yet it needs repair from sea water corosion. Hard to imagine something not needing repair, every material gets old in time, sorry cant vote any ore today but do you have sources to reinforce your point? $\endgroup$
    – Joe Jobs
    Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ How much corrosion - and how much repairable corrosion - depends on if it was caught in the net, the condition of the wind and waves, the duration of the sea voyage back to harbor, the number of seagulls that pooped on it, and who knows what else. Nobody can claim that, say, every time it's caught, it loses at least 5 per cent of its life. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 21:36
  • $\begingroup$ I think they have several parts that can wear out and/or need to be recharged or replaced; they are active devices, not just passive shells. Is it possible to add the results of some research to this? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 4:16

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