Incredible Render Shows How SpaceX Plans To Catch Starship & Super Heavy Rocket With ‘Mechazilla’

by Evelyn Arevalo August 13, 2021

Incredible Render Shows How SpaceX Plans To Catch Starship & Super Heavy Rocket With ‘Mechazilla’

Featured Image Source: Render by @ErcXspace via Twitter

SpaceX is a leader in aerospace innovation. The company is working to develop a fully-reusable launch system capable of returning astronauts to the Moon and enabling humans to colonize Mars. SpaceX also envisions a future where Starship can be an alternative for point-to-point travel on Earth. The launch system consists of Starship and the Super Heavy rocket that will liftoff from Starbase ‘Stage 0’ - which is the launch mount and all the ground support equipment, including the 400-foot-tall orbital launch tower that will have mechanical arms to stack the spacecraft atop the booster and ‘catch’ the vehicle(s) as it returns from space.

SpaceX has not released an official render depicting how the booster will be caught yet. An incredible render by Erik @ErcXspace  on Twitter shows how SpaceX plans to catch Starship and the Super Heavy rocket with ‘Mechazilla’. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said that the render animation is “pretty close” to how the vehicles will be caught. “Booster & arms will move faster. QD [quick disconnect] arm will steady booster for ship mate,” Musk wrote in response to the video render, shown below. “[Star]ship will be caught by Mechazilla too. As with booster, no landing legs. Those are only needed for moon & Mars until there is local infrastructure,” he added.



Catching the 230-foot-tall booster will enable fast reusability. “Starship booster, largest flying object ever designed, will be caught out of sky by launch tower. Big step forward, as reflight can be done in under an hour,” Musk said earlier this year. “Ideal scenario imo [in my opinion] is catching Starship in horizontal ‘glide’ with no landing burn, although that is quite a challenge for the tower! Next best is catching with tower, with emergency pad landing mode on skirt (no legs),” he added. “Just one skyscraper catching another,” Musk joked. The Super Heavy booster will be caught with “load points just below the grid fins” and “shock absorption is built into tower arms. Since tower is ground side, it can use a lot more mass to arrest booster downward momentum,” he described in April.

SpaceX is preparing to conduct its debut orbital test flight with a fully-stacked Starship-Super Heavy rocket this year. However, during the first flight attempt they do not plan to catch the booster with the launch tower arm. According to a filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “The Starship Orbital test flight will originate from Starbase, TX. The Booster stage will separate approximately 170 seconds into flight. The Booster will then perform a partial return and land in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 20 miles from the shore,” SpaceX told the FCC in the filing document, “The Orbital Starship will continue on flying between the Florida Straits. It will achieve orbit until performing a powered, targeted landing approximately 100km (~62 miles) off the northwest coast of Kauai [Hawaii] in a soft ocean landing.” The company stacked the launch vehicle for the first during a fit test on August 6. It was unstacked to continue preparing the spacecraft ahead of its pre-flight test campaign. 

Image Source: SpaceX

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