Elon Musk company SpaceX will try a strikingly different approach to land its Super Heavy booster. According to Elon Musk the company will attempt to catch the heavy booster using the launch tower arms.
Current Falcon boosters lands using there landing legs either far downrange on an ocean-based platform or returning to touch down as close as possible to the launch pad. But, ever since the company first demonstration of its Mars rocket in 2016, Elon Musk have also maintained a steady desire to land Super Heavy boosters directly on top of the launch mount after a great deal of refinement.
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The Super Heavy booster will still involve use of its engines to control the velocity of its descent process, but it will involve using the grid fins that are included on its main body to help control its orientation during flight to ‘catch’ the booster essentially hooking it using the launch tower arm before it touches the ground at all. The main benefits of this method, which will obviously involve unprecedented precision and accuracy, is that it means SpaceX can save both cost and weight by omitting landing legs from the Super Heavy design altogether.
While true, catching Super Heavy by its grid fins would likely demand that control surfaces and the structures they attach to be substantially overbuilt especially if Musk means that the crane arm mechanism would be able to catch anywhere along the deployed fins’ 23 feet length. Even more importantly, it seems extraordinarily unlikely that such a complex and unproven recovery method could be made to work reliably on the first one or several tries, implying that early boosters will still need some kind of basic landing legs.
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The goal of SpaceX is to create a launch vehicle that’s even more reusable than the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. Eventually, the goal for Musk is to have Starship making frequent and regular flights for point-to-point flight on Earth, for orbital missions closer to home, and for long-distance runs to the Moon and Mars.