Mechazilla Booster Catch Attempt on the Next SpaceX Starship Flight

Elon says the next SpaceX Starship flight will likely attempt a Mechazilla launch tower catch of the booster.

If successful this would mean saving 33 of the 39 engines for a Starship Superheavy. This would mean getting to the reusability level of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.

There will be no FAA delay to get this licensed for the next launch. This likely happens in July.

There has been a successful simulated booster landing with the soft landing in the water on this last launch.

29 thoughts on “Mechazilla Booster Catch Attempt on the Next SpaceX Starship Flight”

  1. Your right if the whole thing was made of carbon fiber. You make the very good point the “stainless steel” construction of Musk’s starships (Sorry, but until someone can actually make a technology that can take us to the stars, what Musk “names thing’s” say’s to me, he think’s more with his penis, then his mind. (And his mind can imagine wonderful things.) He just needs to take his hand off his dick long enough to do amazing things even more. Hell, he’s already done amazing things. Just imagine, what he (or anyone) took their hand off their dick could do? Think of the possibilities.

    I’ts a weird combination of “icky and inspirering” Perhaps the greatest threat to really wonderful and new technologies getting into, and changing our lives for the better, are the egos of some people, who come up with some aspect of them. And think, because they came up with a new “babble”, think their so much “smatter”, meaning “better”, then the rest of us. Know what gang? I don’t think so. I have and continue to come up (like very new technologies) with ideas that would knock your socks off.

    Does that make me “better” then any one else? I don’t think so. What’s REALLY IMPORTANT is I KNOW THAT!

  2. Elon Musk said a damaged FLAP, not FLAPS. I wonder if we could take that to mean that only one flap sustained damage.

    • They need to put more cameras on it next time. Then we’ll know for sure.

      Such a huge heavy hunk of metal, and yet they have to be stingy on the cameras? It should be covered with them.

  3. This *probably* means that the SH managed to land close to where it was programmed to, so that’s an interesting piece of information. Besides that, I guess SpaceX will have to build up that second tower in a hurry, since I doubt they will try the catch without a spare tower to take up the slack if something goes wrong…

    • Probably 40 days to launch 5. Launch 6 would probably be about 70 days from now so in the worst case of tower destriction they have 70 days to complete tower 2 which is probably not enough time. So attempting to catch the booster and failing results in a ~1-2 month delay. May be worth it? The booster seemed to be well controlled.

      • [ maybe SpaceX could rent an unutilized oil (drilling) platform that could be (temporarily) adjusted with a ‘Mechazilla’ or ‘Booster catch’ functionality, maybe there’s one in the Gulf of Mexico? ]

    • one month to bring back the platform to launch again with a booster. the Starship will be ten times bigger and even tougher and slower to move. Landing on the launch tower means if it was not damaged, It could refueled and relaunched in hours.

    • Because it’s to difficult and timely to move the booster around so if they catch it they can set the booster back down on the launch pad and launch just hours later.

    • Because they did the math and the weight savings for not launching landing gear is worth the cost and risk of catching it with chopsticks. It also makes rapid reusability easier by landing back on the launch pad.

  4. My guess is that starship2 will be designed to have more lift, to stay near the Karmen line longer. The stainless steel in the flaps, and hinges may be replaced with titanium, or it’s alloys.

  5. “This would mean getting to the reusability level of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy”

    I disagree. They need to catch it AND refly it 10 times (in a 3 years period) to get to the same level of reusability. But I’m confident they will get there soon. On the hand, it will be harder to reuse the ship, because of reentry.

    • Not the right metric. They need to produce a rocket that can put kg in to LEO for less $. That’s the only metric that matters, period. Everything else is rocket fanboi fanservice like CGI glamour shots of Skylon landing at airports.

      And I will point out that if you were to put max kg to LEO with every launch and throw away the booster and Starship (which is to say 0% reusability) then Starship is already better than SLS.

      I don’t think that they will attempt capture of the booster until they have a second Mechazilla. Mechazilla is a single point of failure for the program and its loss is too much of a delay. I think that they will attempt to put Starlink satellites in to orbit while working on getting reentry dialed it.

  6. They have serious problems with those tiles; I wonder if the noise level at launch is just high enough to directly damage them? All through reentry you could see bits of broken tile blowing past the starship.

    • The integration of the tiles seemed much more precise on STS, yet it is directly responsible for the programme’s stoppage. SpaceX engineers will have to think outside the box to solve this problem.

      • Why not integrate heat resistance materials into a semiflexible fiber-arranged material? Flexible to a point at 2D, but not 3D (at 3D, things can break up, and fall off, not good).
        Individual tiles, composed of a large ceramic component are by nature brittle (prone to chipping), The whole protection layer must by nature have a certain “stress-adaption”, or flex, or it will be ever prone to fracture under the immense stress of launch, or re-entry.

        Perhaps at the nano-level, I think we can design materials that are both flexible, thermoresistant and robust. Frankly, those more “precise” individual tiles of STS are more likely to shatter from any stress.

      • They can always return to the ORIGINAL plan of active cooling. They gave up on it because of weight.

        But better more weight than non reusability

        • Active cooling is an interesting approach. The weight is a major consideration. And a certain mass required for active cooling, would negate its advantage beyond a certain mass you wanted to get into orbit. Then again, our old SR-71 spy planes used it’s fuel to actually cool the plane as it burned to power the plane. It wasn’t “extra mass”, it was fuel, that had more then one purpose. Good point.

        • Starship survived reentry with a bad flap and made a controlled landing flip and burn. I think that launch 4 demonstrated that their approach is correct and that things like active cooling aren’t necessary.

    • Places had thin tiles or no tiles. To test the durability of the ship. V2 had the flaps further back

    • To respond to your comments about noise levels being damaging? I would say absolutely. Acoustic stress to a material is far more nuanced, and insidious as opposed to torsion stress on an object. Resonant harmonics can shatter objects. Sub-resonate harmonics can greatly weaken materials, sometimes long before they actually fail. Look at bridge’s that just “fell down”. We’ve had a number of those, where no one catastrophic event took a certain bridge down. Repeated stress on an object need not be physical “direct contact”. Repeated vibration is a form of low frequency acoustic assault.

      I couldn’t tell you how to make rockets “less noisy”. But perhaps active noise cancelation may muffle it’s effects? Generating an inverse frequency of the same harmonic (noise), at the same amplitude (Db level) can reduce the sound by an object. It can’t mask the entire sound from an object. It can turn a roar into a whisper. Like radar stealth, that doesn’t make an object “utterly radar invisible”. It just makes any return so small, hopefully no one will notice. Noise cancellation might save a lot of wear and tear on our rockets/spaceships.

  7. That was an awesome launch, very impressive.
    But also shows they gotta do a better job on the forward flaps.

  8. If Starship had been made out of carbon fiber, it would have burned up like piece of paper.
    Starship surviving the abuse it did shows that using stainless steel is the way to go.

    • I think that was maybe the craziest thing I had ever seen. HALF the forward starboard flap was missing and STILL worked.

    • Your right if the whole thing was made of carbon fiber. You make the very good point the “stainless steel” construction of Musk’s starships (Sorry, but until someone can actually make a technology that can take us to the stars, what Musk “names thing’s” say’s to me, he think’s more with his penis, then his mind. (And his mind can imagine wonderful things.) He just needs to take his hand off his dick long enough to do amazing things even more. Hell, he’s already done amazing things. Just imagine, what he (or anyone) took their hand off their dick could do? Think of the possibilities.

      I’ts a weird combination of “icky and inspirering” Perhaps the greatest threat to really wonderful and new technologies getting into, and changing our lives for the better, are the egos of some people, who come up with some aspect of them. And think, because they came up with a new “babble”, think their so much “smatter”, meaning “better”, then the rest of us. Know what gang? I don’t think so. I have and continue to come up (like very new technologies) with ideas that would knock your socks off.

      Does that make me “better” then any one else? I don’t think so. What’s REALLY IMPORTANT is I KNOW THAT!

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