Bypassing obstacles that hinder the return of rockets and spacecraft to the earth’s soil after their pilgrimages is a challenge that companies in the field have to deal with constantly – and Elon Musk goes to great lengths to put innovative solutions related to the subject into practice. In a Twitter post, the billionaire released an initiative that at first seems unbelievable: he intends, with SpaceX, to capture equipment still in the air using launch pads.
The technology for this is not so far away, he says; however, it takes courage to perform tests that, if unsuccessful, would waste astronomical values. After all, even if all equipment is light and efficient, it involves volatile liquids and high pressures, in addition to frightening speeds. That is, a lot can go wrong.
The first device to be grabbed, it is expected, will be a Super Heavy rocket, with a probable 28 Raptor engines, which use combustion cycles in stages. Although there are no in-depth details related to the experiment, for comparison, the Falcon 9, also from the company, has four large landing legs made of carbon fiber and aluminum, which stabilize the vehicle when it touches the ground and whose mass is of about 2 metric tons.
Such parts in the Super Heavy would probably need to be several times larger, perhaps in the order of 5 to 10 metric tons. Great powers bring great responsibilities, said Ben Parker.
Insane? Who knows?
These concerns, in any case, would be totally disregarded if a pair of functional “arms” were part of the launch towers, and this is the objective of Elon Musk – who intends, with due studies, to optimize, even, the relaunch time of rockets. Once inspected and refueled, it would only take an hour to get back into action.
The differential to make everything possible may be precisely in the set of engines, which would allow the device to almost hover over the platform, giving enough margin for ground operations to move components and hold everything.