Elon Musk’s company has in mind the recovery of the Super Heavy rocket, with which it will put the Starship spacecraft into orbit, after each launch. The idea is for it to land, once it has launched the ship, in the same launch tower.
“We will try to catch the Super Heavy rocket with the arm of the launch tower, using the fins of the grid to take the charge,” Musk explained via his Twitter account.
Currently, SpaceX routinely recovers and reuses the early stages of its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, landing its thrusters vertically on the platforms located on the autonomous ships it has in the ocean.
However, unlike these rockets that use their legs for landing, the Super Heavy will not need them since it will be the launch tower itself with its arm that could capture “in the air” the rocket returning to Earth.
In this way, “the weight and cost of these legs are saved and allows the immediate repositioning of the rocket on the launch support, ready to be refueled in less than an hour,” Musk explains in another tweet.
The manager has emphasized that ” both the Starship and Super Heavy will be completely and quickly reusable, which could make the colonization of Mars and other ambitious exploration feats economically viable.”
SpaceX has already built and flown several Starship prototypes from its facilities in South Texas. In fact, last month, the SN8 vehicle rose to an estimated altitude of 12.5 kilometers and returned to Earth at the designated place. Although SN8 arrived too fast and exploded in a huge fireball, Musk stated that the test flight “was a great success”.