Elon Musk via Twitter
No Guarantees

Elon Musk Says SpaceX Will Catch Starship Booster With Giant “Robot Chopsticks”

byVictor Tangermann
Aug 30
Elon Musk via Twitter

"Success is not guaranteed, but excitement is!"

Robot Chopsticks

According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the space company will attempt something very different to recover its massive Super Heavy booster after it launches.

“SpaceX will try to catch largest ever flying object with robot chopsticks,” Musk tweeted early Monday morning.

He was referring, of course, to the giant robotic tower SpaceX is building to catch the primary rocket stage after it gives the company’s Starship spacecraft a boost into orbit.

True to character, Musk reasserted his penchant for classic movies, adding a link to a clip from the 1984 hit “The Karate Kid” that involves catchings flies with chopsticks.

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“Success is not guaranteed, but excitement is!” Musk added.

It’s an exciting moment in the development of Starship. Without its giant booster, the spacecraft isn’t capable of escaping Earth’s gravitational pull — but we’re finally inching closer to seeing the first Super Heavy leave the ground.

Mechazilla

Last year, Musk revealed how “Mechazilla” — the CEO’s nickname for the structure — will enable a soft landing.

“We’re going to try to catch the Super Heavy Booster with the launch tower arm, using the grid fins to take the load,” Musk tweeted in December in response to a fan-made animation. In other words, the two tower arms will act as a pair of “giant chopsticks” to guide the booster back to the ground.

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Musk also revealed earlier this month that Mechazilla will be used to catch Starship as well — except on the Moon and Mars, where he astutely noted there isn’t yet any “infrastructure.”

Static Fire

SpaceX completed the construction of the massive 440-foot launch tower late last month, setting the stage for the first-ever test launch of a Super Heavy booster prototype.

Last week, the company reinstalled 29 Raptor engines on its first orbital-class prototype called Booster 4 after a test fitting earlier this month.

SpaceX will likely attempt a static test fire of the prototype in the coming weeks. But a full test launch could still be some time away. The Federal Aviation Administration is still completing an environmental review that could drag on for weeks if not months.

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But when the first Super Heavy leaves the ground, we will certainly be watching live.

More on SpaceX: Elon Musk: Jeff Bezos Retired for “Full-time Job Filing Lawsuits Against SpaceX”


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