Super Heavy Booster is the gigantic rocket with which SpaceX wants to put the ( also gigantic ) Starship into orbit. In addition to being much more powerful and larger than the Falcon 9, he also wants to recover it after each launch in a different way. If plans go well, it will put Starship into orbit and then land right back on the launch pad and docked to the launch tower. An engineering milestone that now remains to be seen if it becomes a reality.
Falcon 9 rockets have already made dozens of successful launches. The rocket, after putting the satellites or spacecraft in orbit, returns to Earth and lands on landing platforms specially designed for it. As it does, it opens its legs and positions itself vertically to place itself “gently” on the surface. However, it won’t be what SpaceX seeks to do with its biggest rocket of all, it won’t even have legs.
In a series of tweets the CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, has indicated part of the plans he has with Super Heavy Booster. Super Heavy Booster, remember, on a much larger rocket that is meant to put the Starship ship into orbit. It is expected to contain around 28 Raptor engines and in such a large beast, even though it is made to lift a ton of mass, reducing its load and weight is essential.
A matter of reducing weight and saving time with SpaceX
Currently the four legs used by the Falcon 9 weigh about two tons together. For the Super Heavy Booster, being even bigger, these four legs could go to a minimum of five tons of weight. Is all that extra weight necessary? For Elon Musk no , that’s why they plan to not include all four legs in the Super Heavy Booster.
So how is it going to land? In the same way it’s going to be launched, at least that’s the plan. They indicate that they pose the Super Heavy Booster to land back on the same launch pad and glued to the launch tower. With this the launch tower itself with its arm could “capture in the air” the Super Heavy Booster just before it hits the ground and thus not need legs.
In addition to saving considerable weight with this, the Super Heavy Booster also saves time for a next continuous launch.
The idea itself is extremely ambitious , but if SpaceX has taught us anything over the years, it is that they are willing to break the rules and ways of doing things in space exploration. What today seems normal to us in terms of landing rockets vertically sounded like science fiction a few years ago.
At the moment we only have the words of Elon Musk on the matter and no evident evidence that they are developing exactly this. As of today the most we have in relation to this is the development of the Starship and its launch and landing tests. Starship is phase 2 of the mission and while it has been independently tested, it remains to be seen how it docks with Super Heavy Booster to launch into orbit with full payload. Perhaps in the coming months we will know more about Super Heavy Booster, phase 1, and its peculiar landing.