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Une tour qui attrape le Super Heavy. © SpaceX

Elon Musk unveils Mechazilla, the launch tower that “grabs” a heavyweight when landing!

Not short of ideas or technological innovations, Elon Musk is also seriously considering using the Starship launch tower to recover, or rather “capture” the Super Heavy stage before it lands on Earth. It shuts off when it returns to the ground. An interesting idea, but it still has to be realistic.

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Unlike the main floor in Falcon 9 Returning to Earth using its landing legs, the Super Heavy can be caught mid-flight, just a few feet off the ground! Two days ago, Elon Musk subscribed to Twitter Video showing the Starbase launch tower Construction At its location in Boca Chica, Texas. The height of this tower is 122 meters and has the nickname: “Mechazilla”. It has the peculiarity of having mechanical arms that can be closed or opened at different heights. They will be used as “clamps” to catchvery heavy floor before it makes landfall and hold it a few feet off the ground. These arms will also be able to rotate, which will allow it to reposition the platform on the launch pad. but that is not all. their great freedom in a movement It will also allow them to recover a file Starship Placed nearby so it can be attached to the Super Heavy.

Return mass and accuracy, the main difficulties

This is the theory. In practice, this will not be easy. If the idea seems simple, its implementation is risky. in scenario SpaceX, the floor returning from its mission shall approach the tower as slowly as possible, without hitting the ground, until it is recovered by the arms which will hold it (by closing around it) until the floor support is supported. on the arms. These struts should not be confused with the ailerons used to control the position of the stage when it returns to dry ground. With a mass of more or less than 100 tons, the launch tower must be sufficiently anchored in the ground and strong to keep the platform at arm’s length and in the air. Another difficulty, not the least, the accuracy of the return must be in centimeters, otherwise the floor may collide with the tower!

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However, there are clearly many advantages to using such a mechanism. First, the Super Heavy saves from having to use a landing leg system, which saves mass and system cost. Then, this also avoids having an additional winch for all maneuvers, lifting and positioning operations in the SuperHeavy and Starship. Finally, this mechanism allows to reduce the return delay on the Super Heavy flight. Elon Musk estimates his launcher could be ready to fly in just under an hour!

Note that ArianeWorks, ADF/Latesys Group and University ren Work on Smartcatcher concept Which consisted in holding the slinger a few meters before touching the ground using a system of cables that would surround it in a kind of polygon.

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