Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Landing sites for reusable Falcon 9 first stage test flights.

 Copyright 2014 Robert Clark

 SpaceX has said the goal is to return the reusable first stage of the Falcon 9 to the launch site. However, during the two tests of the system so far the test "landings" have been on the ocean. In order to test the full reusability of the system it would be nice to have it land on a a dry surface. For safety reasons, for these test flights you could also want this dry surface to be at sea rather than the launch site. 

For stable landing platform for ocean landings perhaps SpaceX could rent Sea Launch's Odyssey platform:

Rocket-carrying Odyssey platform sailing to launch site.
Posted: May 12, 2014

It is based in California for sea launch from the Pacific so it would be quite a steam to bring it to Florida. Still, considering Sea Launch's current shaky financial status they would welcome some more cash from the rental.

Another possibility would be to rent one of the huge container ships for the purpose. These are typically over 100 feet wide and 1,000 feet long.

A question is how accurate are the landing zones for the F9 first stage.

The first landing test took place in the Pacific since it launched from Vandenberg. Then you could leave the Odyssey platform off the coast of California for Vandenberg launches.

For launching from Vanderberg, another option might be landing at one of the numerous small islands off the coast of southern CA. Compare this image of Vandenberg:

with this image of small islands off the southern CA coast:

Some are sparsely populated. At least one is owned by the U.S. military.

The location of Point Conception in both images allows you to estimate the path the F9 first stage would have to take to reach one of these islands. From Vandenberg AFB though it would have to fly partially over populated civilian areas which could be a problem.

   Bob Clark

1 comment:

  1. Because landing at an ultraremote landmass isn't a better option...rather than risk hundreds of millions of dollars of infrastructure...