Elon Musk Says Launch Tower Will Catch Super Heavy Booster Mid-Air
SpaceX has been recycling its Falcon 9 boosters for years now. This has involved the boosters landing on boats or launch pads using their built-in legs.
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No more Earth landings
However, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to announce that the next level of booster, the Super Heavy, will be caught by the launch tower arm instead of landing back on Earth.
"We’re going to try to catch the Super Heavy Booster with the launch tower arm, using the grid fins to take the load," tweeted Musk.
We’re going to try to catch the Super Heavy Booster with the launch tower arm, using the grid fins to take the load— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 30, 2020
This will not only result in major cost savings it will also reduce the weight of the booster. Another benefit is that the booster could potentially be ready for reuse immediately.
All it would need to fly again is a new payload and upper stage. Musk mentioned that this approach would allow the booster to be "ready to refly in under an hour," according to New Atlas.
If this sounds too far-fetched, think about everything SpaceX has achieved thus far and you will see it's a likely possibility. It's no secret that Musk is planning trips to Mars.
Is Mars next?
A quickly recyclable booster could allow for those trips to happen by speeding up the time it takes for new space missions to take off. That is ultimately the goal of Starship and Super Heavy.
Suborbital test flights of the Starship have already begun but have also experienced some issues. The first suborbital flight ended up with an explosion earlier this month.
However, that did not deter Musk. Last week, the CEO said he expects to begin flight testing two prototype Super Heavy boosters in as soon as "a few months" at SpaceX's facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
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