July 5, 2022

The Queens County Citizen

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Elon Musk unveiled the Mechazilla, the launch tower that will “catch” it when it becomes a super heavy land!

Une tour qui attrape le Super Heavy. © SpaceX

Always short of ideas or technological innovations, Elon Musk is desperately thinking of retrieving the launch tower of the starship or “catching” the super heavy stage before landing. An interesting idea but it still has to be realistic.

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Unlike the main floor of Falcon 9 It returns to the ground using landing legs and can be caught in the air a few feet off the super heavy ground! Two days ago, Elon Musk Shared Twitter Video showing the existence of the Starbase launch tower Construction On its site in Boca Chico, Texas. At 122 meters high, the tower already has the nickname: “Machezilla”. It has mechanical weapons that can be closed or opened at different heights. Used as “grips” to catch themSuper heavy stage Hold it before it touches the solid ground and a few feet away from the ground. These arms can also be pivoted so that they can be placed backstage on the launch pad. But that is not all. Their great freedom Movement Also allows them to be retrieved a Starship Placed nearby to install it on Super Heavy.

Return mass and accuracy, major difficulties

This is the theory. In practice, it is anything but simple. If the idea seems simple, its implementation is very dangerous. In the scenario SpaceX, The return step from its mission is to reach the tower as slowly as possible without crashing to the ground, it is lifted with both hands holding it (closing around it) so that the tire support brackets rest on the hands. These supports should not be confused with the ailerons used to control the attitude of the stage during return to dry land. With a weight of more than 100 tons or less, the launch tower must be adequately anchored to the ground and the ground arm long and strong enough to hold in the air. Another difficulty, and not the most important, is that the accuracy of the return must be centimeter, otherwise the ground may touch the tower!

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There are several benefits to using such a mechanism. First, it saves super heavy without having to use a landing leg system, which saves the mass and cost of the system. Then, it eliminates all the maneuvers of superheavy and starship and the need for an extra crane for lifting and positioning operations. Finally, this mechanism makes it possible to significantly reduce the delay in returning to a super heavy aircraft. Elon Musk estimates his launcher will be ready to fly in just under an hour!

ArianeWorks, ADF / Latesys Group and University of Rennes Working on Concept Smart Catcher It involves holding the launcher a few meters before it touches the ground using a system of cables that holds it in a kind of polygon.

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