Elon Musk plans to capture SpaceX’s most powerful rocket rather than land it


An rendition of Starship and Super Heavy.


One day in the not too distant future, Elon Musk envisions breaking off from Earth and sending his next generation Starship en route to the moon, Mars or just the other side of the world. A few minutes later, the first stage booster used for the lift is returned to the launch tower, where it is “captured” by a specially designed arm and ready for a new launch within an hour.

The SpaceX chief hinted at this plan in a series of tweets on Wednesday.

“We’re going to try to catch the Super Heavy Booster with the launch tower arm and use the grid fins to take the load,” he wrote in response to another Twitter user.

Super Heavy is the next generation booster designed to be combined with the SpaceX Starship currently being developed at the company’s Texas plant. You may have seen the first successful test flight at high altitude of an early Starship prototype earlier this month, which ended with a major blow from a hard landing.

A starship prototype comes in for an explosive landing.

SpaceX video recording

Musk’s vision is that Starship will eventually transport up to 100 passengers to the solar system and on superfast transcontinental flights via space.

The current SpaceX workhorse rocket, the Falcon 9, which was used to send satellites and missions to the International Space Station, returns to Earth and land using retractable landing gear. For Super Heavy, which will compete with the largest and most powerful rockets ever built, Musk sees the benefits of eliminating the bones.

“Save bone mass and cost and enable instant booster replacement at launch – ready to recharge in less than an hour,” did he tweet.

The movement diverts the tension from a landing to the grid fins, which are located near the top of the booster and are essentially used to steer the rocket during the flight, and on a kind of device on the launch tower to which the grid fins will come . rest on.

Musk said using legs to land Super Heavy is also still an option.

“Legs will definitely work, but the best part is no part, the best step is no step,” he wrote.

When we will see it is not clear. SpaceX is working on Super Heavy in Texas, but expect a few more test flights of solo Starship prototypes without the big booster before we see any of these possible innovations in real life.