Majk Posted May 4, 2021 Share Posted May 4, 2021 When Starship is done, exactly where will the Super Heavy Booster be recovered? The sources (such as https://www.space.com/spacex-starship-super-heavy-landing-plans) seem to indicate that it will be caught by the very same launch tower from which it started. However, this doesn't make much sense to me from orbital mechanics point of view. The booster doesn't have enough delta-v to become orbital on its own, so it cannot complete a full orbit to come back to the launch site. The booster must gain some horizontal velocity. If it was merely lifting the second stage to orbital altitude, this would be incredibly wasteful. Furthermore, the upper stage has about 7km/s delta-v, which is less than the orbital velocity at LEO, so it wouldn't become orbital even if it used up all of its fuel. Will the booster simply cancel all horizontal velocity it got, gain a comparable amount of horizontal velocity in the opposite direction to come back to the launch site? Again, this sounds incredibly wasteful, even one could argue that by staging the payload, the dry mass decreases significantly, thus improving delta-v of the booster. A naive solution would be to have a separate landing site to "catch" the booster. This is not without issue, because either you need to have a network of evenly spaced launch sites all around the world (clearly impractical), or haul the behemoth over land. Furthermore, you're severely constrained in the inclinations you can launch into. Last but not least, this would contradict the claim here in https://techcrunch.com/2020/12/30/elon-musk-says-spacex-will-attempt-to-recover-super-heavy-rocket-by-catching-it-with-launch-tower/ Quote Another potential benefit raised by Musk is that it could allow SpaceX to essentially recycle the Super Heavy booster immediately back on the launch mount it returns to — possibly enabling it to be ready to fly again with a new payload and upper stage (consisting of Starship, the other spacecraft SpaceX is currently developing and testing) in “under an hour.” What am I missing? Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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