The commercial space travel company seeks approval to build two additional landing pads.
After nailing the landing of their Falcon 9 rocket yesterday during a resupply mission for the International Space Station, SpaceX has announced an even more ambitious plan. Later this year, the pioneering aerospace company plans to land three rockets nearly simultaneously.
All last year, SpaceX worked hard to perfect the landing of their Falcon 9 rockets, finally succeeding in December. Being able to reuse rockets will drastically decrease the cost of space travel by a factor of 100 or more, which SpaceX hopes will allow more satellites to be launched and more astronauts to explore space.
At this point, their landed rockets aren’t reusable, but it’s a first step. Now SpaceX wants to upgrade to a bigger spacecraft, which will mean a whole new launch strategy.
According to SpaceX’s website, Falcon Heavy will be the big brother to Falcon 9. With a capacity of 119,000 pounds (54 metric tons), Falcon Heavy could carry more than twice as much cargo as the next closest rocket in operation, but it requires three rockets for propulsion instead of one.
As shown in a promotional video by SpaceX, two of the cores will land simultaneously on their landing pads while the third will land just minutes later:
According to the Orlando Sentinel, SpaceX has applied for federal approval to build two new landing pads for these rockets.
“We hope to recover all three Falcon Heavy rockets, though initially we may attempt drone ship landings” at sea, a spokesperson told the Sentinel.
The plan may sound ambitious but SpaceX prides itself for doing “the missions that others think are impossible.”
Falcon Heavy, with its greater carrying capacity, will make a mission to Mars possible for future astronauts — something that SpaceX founder Elon Musk has said he wants to achieve in the next decade. Tweeting about the Falcon Heavy announcement, Musk says he wants the main focus of the Falcon Heavy project to be traveling to the red planet.
Really tempting to redesign upper stage for return too (Falcon Heavy has enough power), but prob best to stay focused on the Mars rocket
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 4, 2016
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