SpaceX, preparing for Falcon Heavy, asks for more landing pads1 min read

With a number of successful Falcon booster landings behind it, SpaceX is getting ready to try something likely to be a bit more challenging: three nearly simultaneous landings. This doesn’t mean SpaceX is upping its launch schedule; instead, the three boosters will all be part of the planned Falcon Heavy vehicle.

Essentially three standard Falcons strapped together, the big rocket will be capable of lifting 54 metric tons into orbit. SpaceX is planning on the first Falcon Heavy test launch later this year. A video posted earlier this year made it clear that those plans include treating each of the three boosters as a regular Falcon once they’ve separated from the payload. That includes a return flight to Florida or a barge offshore.

Right, now, the company is using either the barge or an on-land site at Cape Canaveral to recover the boosters, with the choice depending on how high and far downrange they travel. And the company wants the option of returning all three to land if the opportunity arises (though two by land and one by sea might be an option). And so the company told The Orland Sentinel that it was asking the government for permission to build two more landing pads near its original facility.

The Sentinel notes that the public has until August to file complaints about the proposed new facility. If we assume that SpaceX will want to try recoveries from the very first launch, then this implies that the first test will, at the earliest, be toward the end of this year.

 

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Sebastien Clarke

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