SpaceX is getting closer and closer to the design of its Starship and Super Heavy launch system. When completed, it will be the world’s first fully reusable launch system and will facilitate travel in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), the Moon and Mars. Construction on the system’s booster element (Super Heavy) began last summer and, according to a recent tweet from Musk, will be “caught” by his 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 goes by the Twitter handle Erc X (@ErcXspace) who produced a video that illustrates what the Super Heavy might look like when he returns to his landing site. The video is captioned with a question: “Specific profile of Super Heavy Descent?”
Precise super heavy descent profile? pic.twitter.com/MxIJ0zLzKn
– Erc X (@ErcXspace) December 30, 2020
Musk responded by tweeting:
“We will try to grab the Super Heavy Booster with the launch tower arm, using the fins on the grid to take the load … Save mass and leg cost and allow immediate repositioning of the booster on the launch mount – ready to fold up within an hour. “
The next day, a 3D designer (nickname Youtube Mini3D) created an animation based on this description. It represents the launch tower with a harness, which grabs the Super Heavy booster after lowering into the arms. The harness then lowers the booster over a landing pad, eliminating the need for landing legs and increasing the chances of a safe recovery.
As Musk noted, this capture system is also part of what he hopes comes down to regular space travel. In the past, Musk has hinted that his long-term vision was to increase the production of the Starship to the point that he could build 100 per year for ten years (creating a fleet of 1,000). This fleet, he claimed, could carry 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 ability to carry supplies, equipment, robots, and passengers, Musk would be able to fulfill his dream of building a colony on Mars by the end of the 2020s. Whether that goal remains to be seen very ambitious will be achieved during this decade (or never, for that matter). But in the meantime, Musk could do some good at a number of things he’s mentioned in the past.
For starters, SpaceX could deploy bundles of Starlink satellites much faster and create the legendary mega-constellation that will bring high-speed internet to every corner of the world. It could also meet Musk’s plan to provide intercontinental commercial flights here at home, giving travelers the ability to fly halfway around the world in under an hour.
The ability to launch spaceships with such a fast spin will also facilitate SpaceX’s goal of making regular trips to the moon. In accordance with their contractual obligations with NASA – through the Soft Touchdown Cargo Transport and Landing Program (CATALYST) – SpaceX will send cargoes and crews to the moon to support Project Artemis.
SpaceX spacecraft test flight interrupted at last second
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Quote: SpaceX’s Next Idea: Catching Super Heavy Boosters with the Launch Tower (2021, January 12) retrieved January 13, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-01-spacex-idea-super-heavy -boosters.html
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