SpaceX plans to become more ambitious with precision missile landings.
Elon Musk routinely retrieves and reuses the early stages of its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy missiles, lowering the boosts for the duration Smooth vertical drop About 9 minutes after take-off, on land near the launch pad or aboard autonomous „unmanned ships“ in the ocean.
These landings are impressively accurate. But SpaceX aims to achieve something really amazing StarshipIt is the next generation system developed by the company to transport people and cargo to the moon, mars and other distant destinations.
We’ll try to capture the Super Heavy Booster with the arm of the launch tower, using mesh fins to hold the payloadDecember 30, 2020
„We’ll try to capture the Super Heavy booster using the launch tower arm, using mesh fins to withstand the load,“ He said via Twitter on December 30th.
That’s right: SpaceX wants to bring the Super Heavy, the giant first stage of the two-stage Starship system, directly on the launch pad.
musk This ambition was expressed before, But last week’s tweet is adding new curls – for example, the Super Heavy will be perfectly captured by the turret arm, so it won’t land at all. Unlike the early stages of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, then the Super Heavy will not need landing legs. (Incidentally, the mesh fins that enable grip are waffle-like control surfaces that help guide returning missiles during a precision landing.)
Musk said the newly announced strategy offers several important benefits.
„It saves mass and cost of legs and enables immediate repositioning of the booster on the launch mount – ready to regenerate in less than an hour,“ V said. Another tweet on December 30th.
The Starship’s upper stage is a 165 feet (50 meters) spacecraft called (somewhat confusingly) the Starship. Musk assured that both the Starship and Super Heavy would be completely reusable and fast, making the colonization of Mars and other ambitious exploration adventures economically feasible.
SpaceX has already built and airlifted several prototypes of the spacecraft from its facility in South Texas, near the village of Boca Chica on the Gulf Coast. In the past month, for example, the SN8 („serial number 8“) spacecraft rose to an estimated altitude of 7.8 miles (12.5 kilometers) and returned to Earth at the designated location. Although SN8 came very quickly and exploded in a huge fireball, Musk announced that An epic test drive big success.
Another such leap should come soon: SpaceX recently moved SN9 to the launch pad. Like the SN8, the SN9 has three powerful Raptor engines, so its maximum flight altitude may also be within 7.8 miles. (The three prototypes that flew prior to SN8 were single-engine vehicles only 500 feet, or 150 meters, off the ground.)
The final Starship will contain six Raptors, making it powerful enough to launch itself from the surface of the Moon and Mars (but not Earth). Musk said that Super Heavy will feature about 30 Raptors. Although the Starship program has so far devoted most of its time to building and testing prototypes of spaceships, it appears that The first Super Heavy prototype is being built.
Mike Wall is the author ofAbroad„(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustration by Karl Tate), a book on the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.
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