Leave it to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to make bold statements or come up with strange ideas. Musk has announced that he wants to catch the second rocket stage of probably the Falcon 9 rocket by using a ‘gigantic party balloon’.
Up to now, SpaceX has a total of 23 times the first rocket staircase of a Falcon 9. to land and eleven of them have also been reused in later launches. When ‘catching’ the rocket stages, a landing engine is used that is ignited at the right moment, so that the stairs can make a soft and safe landing, for example on the drone vessels used by SpaceX that are equipped with a landing platform.
According to Musk an engine ignition takes place during the second rocket stage during the return to the earth, to drop the stairs at a certain point in the ocean where there are no islands or ships. In order to actually catch the rocket staircase, the landing must take place closer to the coast and a special vessel must be deployed, such as the boat called Mr. Steven who was deployed earlier to catch the nose cone of a Falcon 9 rocket.
Catching the nose cones and the second rocket staircase are two major challenges for the SpaceX. The ability to collect and reuse the second rocket stage requires, in contrast to the first rocket stage, a complete heat shield, drive for return flight and special communication systems. SpaceX has already attempted to capture the nose cone of some Falcon 9 missiles, but that has failed so far.
The landing of two lower rocket stages after the launch of the Falcon Heavy on February 6.