SpaceX has been making controlled landings of its Falcon 9 boosters to allow them to be reused for a number of years now. Such landings involve the rockets touching down, be it on a boat or a launch pad, using legs built into the rocket. But SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk has revealed different plans for the Falcon 9’s bigger sibling, the Super Heavy, announcing the intention to have the launch tower arm catch the booster.
Rocket retrieval and reusability has become an important focus not just for SpaceX but for other space companies, such as Rocket Lab, which, in addition to retrieving its Electron rocket after an ocean splashdown, has used a helicopter to catch a booster in mid-air. The cost benefits for reusing massively expensive rockets are obvious, and SpaceX’s goal of catching its Super Heavy booster is also rooted in cost savings, as well as reducing the weight of the rocket.
The announcement came, as they so often do, via Tweet, with Musk saying the idea would be for the launch tower arm to catch the Super Heavy booster, with its grid fins taking the load.