One way SpaceX works to make placing satellites and other objects into orbit cheaper is by landing and reusing its Falcon 9 booster rockets. It has a long history of successfully landing the first stage boosters, both on land and on drone ships in the ocean. SpaceX is now outlining its plan to capture and reuse the Falcon Super Heavy booster that will be used to push Starship and larger payloads into space.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently revealed plans that are different from how the Falcon 9 booster is captured. Musk says Super Heavy will be captured by the launch tower arm. Musk said that the grid fins would take the load at the point of capture by the launch tower.
The company CEO announced the plans after someone on Twitter tweeted at him if an animated video was an accurate Super Heavy descent profile. SpaceX certainly wants to reuse the Super Heavy boosters to save money, but Musk also says that by using the launch tower arm, they could eliminate the need for the booster to have legs for landing.
The technique would also allow the booster to be immediately repositioned onto the launch mount for reuse. Musk says this technique would allow the Super Heavy booster to be ready to refly in less than an hour. That would be an impressive feat as it’s typically significantly longer for SpaceX to refit Falcon 9 boosters.
SpaceX ran into a problem with its last Starship test when the rocket exploded after a hard landing. The company is preparing to test two prototype Super Heavy boosters in the coming months at its launch facility in Texas. It will be interesting to see more detail on how SpaceX plans to land its massive rocket with such precision.