Galactic Republic will deliver large payloads to orbit inside a composite fairing, but the rocket can also carry the manned spacecraft.

Does inside a composite fairing function as an attributive or adverbial phrase?

Can I use in a composite fairing instead?

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    As an American citizen, I am bound by export control regulations that prevent me from discussing many details of satellite technology with people who are not American citizens. This particular regulation was put in as a reaction to Americans asking the Chinese why their rockets' fairings repeatedly failed. So while I would be happy to address this grammatical issue in a completely different context, neither I nor many other stack exchange contributors can legally answer this question.
    – Jasper
    Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 15:08
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    I think you are stretching the point here. It's a grammatical issue, not a technological issue. I don't care about the rocket technology. And I'm not even trying to tempt you to do it.
    – Kinzle B
    Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 16:37
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    @Jasper That's patently ridiculous and a completely wrong assessment. Even if what you said somehow applied to everyone who used this site (which it doesn't; there's lots of non-American users, plus your legal analysis is highly suspect) and you were correct (which you aren't; NASA and SpaceX both publish all sorts of details well beyond the definition of "fairing" as it relates to rocketry), this question is about grammar, not rocket science. Whether this is an attributive or adverbial phrase has nothing to do with anything other than grammar. There is zero reason to close this question. Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 16:38
  • According to pmddtc.state.gov/ECR/index.html, the U.S. government is currently revising the Export Control Regulations. The rules still remain a thorny mess, and many of the proposed changes have not gone into effect yet. In particular, pmddtc.state.gov/FR/2014/79FR27180.pdf says that the strict rules of USML Category XV paragraph (f) still cover the original scenario about fairing failures.
    – Jasper
    Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 23:44
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    @Jasper Whatever, just don't vote against it. I don't expect a US citizen to answer my question. A UK citizen would be enough, so it's fricking ridiculous to vote against it. If you really want to help, just walk away.
    – Kinzle B
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 0:46

1 Answer 1


Inside a composite fairing is an adverbial phrase here. It specifies the manner in which the payloads will be delivered. If you replaced composite fairing with rocket, the grammar would be the same (though not the semantics, obviously), but hopefully the simplified example makes it easier to understand.

A fairing is a piece of a rocket designed to shield cargo from the atmosphere during launch. Here's a brief synopsis from the Wikipedia article:

A payload fairing is a nose cone used to protect a spacecraft (launch vehicle payload) against the impact of dynamic pressure and aerodynamic heating during launch through an atmosphere.

Composite is an adjective modifying fairing, and it means that it's constructed from multiple materials.

The entire phrase refines the meaning of the verb deliver by telling us the precise manner of action. Damkerng T. offers this example sentence with parallel grammar:

This time James Bond will carry his high tech gun inside his suitcase.

Here, inside his suitcase serves the same grammatical function as inside a composite fairing; it tells us how James bond will carry his high tech gun.

Can I use in a composite fairing instead?

Yes, you can replace inside with in and the meaning will still be essentially the same. Inside is the better choice, though, because it's more specific than in, and in this case, the payload is literally enclosed within the fairing. In doesn't entail enclosure but inside does. Take a look at this question for more on the nuanced differences between these two prepositions.

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