SpaceX planning to use giant balloon for retrieving upper stage rocketsBy Robin-Leigh Chetty 16 April 2018 | Categories: news
One of the reasons that SpaceX has been able to be successful up until now, apart from a charismatic founder, is their desire to reuse rockets for multiple launches and missions. To date, the company has only been capable of reusing parts of the Falcon 9 rocket by designing a system that allows them to land relatively safely back to Earth.
Now SpaceX is aiming to salvage far more of its rockets, particularly the upper part, with the help of a "giant party balloon" as Elon Musk has mentioned on Twitter recently. As crazy as it sounds, Musk and SpaceX believe that would be able to drop the upper stage's ballistic coefficient by as much as "two orders of magnitude", according to Musk.
SpaceX will try to bring rocket upper stage back from orbital velocity using a giant party balloon— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 15, 2018
As for the financial and operational implications of accomplishing such a feat would entail, Engadget estimates that the $62 million costs of each Falcon 9 rocket launch could be significantly reduced, although a precise saving is unknown. It would also mean that more missions could be planned in a shorter period of time, not to mention the lessened risk of debris falling back to Earth.
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