SpaceX Building 480-Foot-Tall Rocket Catching Robot

SpaceX is making a 480-foot-tall giant robot with arms that will catch giant rockets.

It is insanely cool. Sci-fi made real.

But moon landings were already insanely cool.

The difference is with this working we have almost a thousand launches per month from the same launch pad versus at most one today.

This means rockets are used and launched thousands of times like airplanes and like airplanes the cost will get close to the cost of fuel.

The difference is all of us going to space or watching one in a million astronauts.

The chopstick arms are comparable in size to the barge that has already had dozens of Falcon 9 landings.

Once the Mechazilla landing is working then the rocket is ready to be placed on its launch pad, refueled and relaunched.

The chopstick arms move at 1 foot per second lifting and moving the 200-ton rocket. Rocket stacking has already been performed by the mechazilla.

Landing on Mechazilla will be the most exciting thing we will see in 2023 and then it will eventually become an hourly occurrence at hundreds of space ports. The launches from those spaceports will build cities in orbit, the moon and Mars and will shape the 21st century.

11 thoughts on “SpaceX Building 480-Foot-Tall Rocket Catching Robot”

  1. SpaceX is already planning to move Mechzilla launch pads to floating platforms on the ocean because of risk of catastrophic explosion when launching, due to enormous amount of fuel.

    Future space ships will be even larger. Too large for Mechazilla. They will launch and land directly in the ocean just like regular ships.

  2. “a thousand launches per month from the same launch pad”?
    Thats a launch every 45 minutes or less.
    10 minutes from launch to booster landing
    bringing the Starship second stage and lifting it on top of the booster
    Refueling both the booster and the Starship
    Final pre-flight tests

    If by the end of the decade they can do 2 launches per day, it will be amazing.
    Throwing completely unrealistic numbers is useless

    • SpaceX is building 2 such launch systems. One in Texas and one at Cape Canaveral and yes, they can literally land refuse and take off again so one e dry couple hours at each launch site starts to add up. But there will be more launch sites also at least two ocean platforms so that 4 x the number. So these numbers aren’t so ridiculous. It’s aggressive but it will get to that level reasonably soon after the Starship has been developed.

  3. The structures the arms actually grab on to are tiny and seem to easy to miss. Looking forward to finding out real world reliability….

  4. ” The launches from those spaceports will build cities in orbit, the moon and Mars and will shape the 21st century.”

    This tech(Catching Robot) wil be obsolete by mid-late 2020’s. More probably mid than late.
    Tech is moving quite fast already and will be moving even faster in 2023, then in 2024.
    We will design and develop way more advanced spaceships and launching methods during this decade

    • Nobody else is even close to Falcon 9’s reusability. Every other orbital launcher on Earth in 2022 is expendable.

      SpaceX will be focused for the next decade on getting this Starship system to work – executing and iteratively improving on it.

      So it’s not obvious who the we is that’s going to do better.

    • I think you’re a little too fast with your timeline. Even in Elon time, things wouldn’t be advancing that fast. And, likely, SpaceX itself would do the obsoleting.

      What I do see happening in 2-3 decades, is that the traffic to and from space will get high enough, due to reduced launch costs, to make some non-rocketry approach look economically sensible. There are better ways to get into space than rockets, but they all require so much infrastructure that they only make sense at very high traffic levels.

      The next Musk will be some billionaire who builds an orbital fountain, launch loop, ground to orbit EM catapult, rotating skyhook, or something of that nature.

        • You can do an EM catapult for humans, it just needs to be really long, to keep the launch G’s down, and then you make sure the sectional density is high enough that your negative G’s prior to escaping the atmosphere aren’t deadly. Or you can use an active structure to support a vacuum sheath for the capsule to reach thin enough air to be survivable.

          Really, I think the next big thing for space access will either be rotating skyhooks, or active structures. Or some combination.

          Rotating skyhooks become feasible at the lowest traffic level, but max out early. Active structures and EM catapults are more infrastructure intensive, but have much higher limits on thruput. I really wonder if somebody somewhere isn’t already doing the work on making something like the Loftstrom launch look practical?

    • Wold be nice to see existing, funded examples of those potential replacements for Starship.

      So far the only movement is in the micro and small launcher market, with several attempts to replicate Falcon 9.


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