SpaceX could use its launch tower and ‘chopsticks’ to catch returning Starship rocket

SpaceX can take a risky maneuver – using her launch tower and “chopsticks” to catch a returning Starship booster – during her first orbital launch.

Recently updated filings with the US Federal Communications Commission suggest that the company, founded Elon Musk can change his plans.

The first plan said that both stages of the rocket would end up in the ocean, and the launch vehicle would land in the bay. Mexico and the upper step descends next to Hawaii after a partial revolution around the Earth.

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Recently updated documents filed with the US Federal Communications Commission suggest that the Elon Musk-founded company may have changed its plans. Pictured: a starship at a starbase in Boca Chica, Texas.

However, FCC companies statement now states that after launching from a starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, the Super Heavy Booser will separate from the upper stage and then “make a partial return and land in the Gulf of Mexico, or return to the starbase and be caught by the launch tower.”

Changes in documents first noticed Michael Baylor from

The FCC filing covers the first orbital launch of Starship, so that appears to be what is being planned as an option.

While SpaceX has successfully launched and landed Falcon 9 rockets hundreds of times already, this new maneuver is a different story.

According to FCC documents, a pair of the starbase's so-called

According to FCC documents, a pair of the starbase’s so-called “chopsticks” will then guide the giant booster to a safe vertical landing. Pictured is Starship 24 at the Starbase suborbital launch pad.

The Starbship booster itself is 230 feet tall and needs to line up perfectly over the 400-foot-tall launcher and then slowly lower.

A pair of the starbase’s so-called “chopsticks” then steered the giant booster toward a safe vertical landing.

According to Eric Ralph of Teslaratiwho writes:

“In the case of larger anomalies during a landing attempt, a Starship or Super Heavy could accidentally collide with a launch tower, damaging or even completely destroying a skyscraper-sized structure.

On Monday, a Starship launch vehicle was engulfed in flames during ground tests - footage (above) shows a fireball and the camera shakes from the explosion.

On Monday, a Starship launch vehicle was engulfed in flames during ground tests – footage (above) shows a fireball and the camera shakes from the explosion.

“Ultimately, the enormous risk associated with any capture attempt means that unless SpaceX miraculously designs everything involved near perfect on the first try, the company will have to be extremely careful and spend a large number of ships and boosters to avoid rendering. its single Starship launch tower is unusable.

“At least to some extent, SpaceX is probably aware of this, and the Super Heavy probably needs to be in top condition and perform perfectly during the lift and acceleration of its debut launch to be eligible for a capture attempt.

“Ultimately, Starship’s first orbital launch may turn out to be even more spectacular than is already guaranteed.”

The Starship journey that NASA has chosen for the Artemis missions to the Moon has run into some hurdles.

On Monday, his booster caught fire during ground tests – the fireball is visible in the footage, and the camera shook from the explosion.

The booster remained stationary during the incident, and Musk later said his team was looking into the damage.

Musk also said the issue was due to “spin tests” of 33 Raptor engines powered by cryogenic liquid methane and liquid oxygen.

SpaceX previously moved its Starship 24 to a sub-orbital pad at Starbase last week, and the company shared in a tweet that the move was “preparation for Starbship’s first orbital flight test,” however it’s unclear how much that explosion could be delayed. test.

According to the FAA report, SpaceX had to “take over 75 actions to mitigate the environmental impact from the proposed spacecraft/superheavy launch plan” before it could launch another rocket for the pad.

This includes plans to build its own natural gas desalination power plant as well as a natural gas processing and liquefaction plant at or near the launch site.

However, SpaceX has received permission to close roads for up to 500 hours in connection with operations and up to 300 hours for emergency closures per year.

This is a win as the company only received 180 a year for Falcon 9 rocket launches in 2014.

SpaceX reached a milestone last week with the 100th flight of its Falcon 9 rocket; he delivered a batch of 53 Starlink internet satellites.

This week, Dragon’s spacecraft, carrying more than 5,800 pounds of critical scientific data, equipment and crew supplies, headed for the International Space Station (ISS) following a successful launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched the company’s 25th mission to resupply the orbiting laboratory.

“We are excited to continue to help carry such payloads for NASA, as well as carry crew members, who are a key component to conducting research and control on the station,” said Benjamin Reed, senior director of human spaceflight programs at SpaceX. , in statement.

“All this, of course, is not possible without our partnership with NASA, the space forces and all of our customers. We can’t help but thank you for the opportunity to be part of this and be part of this great scientific community.”

The spacecraft is due to arrive at the ISS on July 16.


The BFR (Big F***ing Rocket), now known as Starship, will complete all the missions and fewer than the ones Musk announced in 2016.

The SpaceX CEO said the rocket would make its first flight to the Red Planet in 2024, carrying only cargo, followed by a manned flight in 2026, and said other SpaceX products would be “cannibalized” to pay for it.

The rocket will be partially reusable and will be able to fly directly from Earth to Mars.

Musk believes that once built, the rocket could be used to travel around Earth, saying passengers could get anywhere in less than an hour.

To date, Starship rockets have undergone 9 test flights, some of which resulted in successful short-range jumps, while others resulted in explosions or crash landings.

The most recent experimental launch – involving the Starship SN15 prototype – took place on May 5, 2021, when the ship completed flight tests at an altitude of 33,000 feet in low-lying clouds, including successful ascent, engine shutdown, rollover. , flap control and soft landing.

After landing, a small fire did start at the base of the rocket, but it was later extinguished.