Elon Musk Unveils Mechazilla, a Launch Tower That ‘Holds’ the Super Heavy

Une tour qui attrape le Super Heavy. © SpaceX

Not short of ideas or technological innovations, Elon Musk is also very seriously considering using the Starship’s launch tower, or instead the super heavy stage to “hold” it before landing on Earth. Firm upon return to the ground. An interesting idea but it still has to be realistic.

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opposite the main floor of falcon 9 Which comes back to the ground using the landing legs, the super heavy can be caught in the middle, just a few feet off the ground! two days ago, Elon Musk shared on Twitter A video showing the Starbase launch tower Construction At their site in Boca Chica, Texas. 122 meters high, this tower already has a nickname: “Mecazilla”. It has the distinction of having mechanical arms that can be closed or opened at different heights. will be used as a “catch” to catch themsuper heavy stage Hold it a few feet off the ground before it hits solid ground. These weapons will also be able to pivot, allowing them to reposition the platform on the launch pad. but that’s not all. their great freedom to Speed will also allow them to recover a starship To install it on the super heavy is located nearby.

Mass and accuracy of return, the main difficulties

That’s the principle. In practice, this would be anything but easy. If the idea seems simple, its implementation is too risky. In SpaceX’s scenario, the stage returning from its mission would have to reach the tower as far as possible, without crashing into the ground, in order to be lifted by two arms that would hold it (by closing around it) until it supported the support. . Rest on top of the arms of the platform. These supports should not be confused with the ailerons used for attitude control of the stage while returning to solid ground. With a mass of more or less 100 tons, the launch tower would have to be anchored sufficiently in the ground and strong enough to hold at arm’s length andWind destination. Another difficulty, and not the least important, is that the accuracy of the return must be centimeters, otherwise the floor may hit the tower!

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That said, there are clearly several advantages to using such a mechanism. First, it avoids the super heavy having to use a landing leg system, which saves the mass and cost of the system. Again, it also avoids having an extra crane for all the maneuvers and lifting and positioning operations of superheavy and starships. Finally, this mechanism makes it possible to significantly reduce the delay in return to flight of the super heavy. Elon Musk estimates his launcher could be ready to fly in just an hour!

Note that ArianeWorks, ADF/Latesys Group and the University of rain working on concept smartcatcher Which involves holding the launcher a few meters before it touches the ground using a system of cables that will enclose it in a polygon of sorts.

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