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Catch Super Heavy boosters with the launch tower

SpaceX's next idea: Catch Super Heavy boosters with the launch tower

Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX is getting closer and closer to realizing the design of its Starship and Super Heavy launch system. When completed, it will be the world̵

7;s first fully recyclable launch system and will facilitate trips to Low Earth (LEO), the Moon and Mars. Construction began on the system’s booster element (Super Heavy) this past summer, and according to a recent tweet from Musk, will be “caught” by its launch tower.

The tweet came (as they often do) in response to a question from one of Musk’s followers. In this case, it was a space designer who walked past the Twitter handle Erc X (@ErcXspace) who produced a video illustrating what the Super Heavy might look like when it returns to its landing site. The video has the caption with a question: “Exactly Super Heavy Descent profile?”

Musk responded by tweeting:

“We will try to capture the Super Heavy Booster with the firing tower arm using the grid fins to take the load … Saves mass and cost of legs and allows immediate booster relocation on launch mount – ready to fly in under an hour.”

The following day, a 3D designer (Youtube handle Mini3D) created an animation based on this description. It depicts the launch tower with a harness that grabs the Super Heavy booster after it sinks into its arms. The harness then lowers the booster to a landing plate, eliminating the need for landing legs and increasing the odds of a safe recovery.

As Musk suggested, this capture system is also part of what he hopes will constitute regular trips to space. In the past, Musk has indicated that his long-term vision is to scale up the production of Starship to the point where they can build 100 a year for ten years (creating a fleet of 1000). This fleet, he claimed, could transport 100 megatons of cargo or 100,000 people to Mars every 26 months (when Earth and Mars are closest in their orbits).

With that kind of capacity to haul supplies, equipment, robots, and passengers, Musk would be able to realize his dream of building a colony on Mars in the late 2020s. Whether the very ambitious goal will be achieved in this decade (or ever for that matter) remains to be seen. But in the meantime, Musk could do well on a number of things he has mentioned earlier.

To begin with, SpaceX was able to implement batches of Starlink satellites much faster, creating the stunning mega-constellation that brings broadband internet to every corner of the world. It could also fulfill Musk’s plan to deliver intercontinental commercial flights here at home, allowing travelers to fly halfway around the world in less than an hour.

The ability to launch Starships with such a rapid turn will also facilitate SpaceX’s goal of taking regular trips to the moon. In accordance with their contractual obligations with NASA – through the Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (CATALYST) program – SpaceX sends cargo and crews to the moon in support of Project Artemis.

Test flight of SpaceX’s Starship was interrupted at the last second

Provided by Universe Today

Citation: SpaceX’s next idea: Catch Super Heavy boosters with the launch tower (2021, January 12) retrieved January 14, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-01-spacex-idea-super-heavy-boosters.html

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