SpaceX to slow upper rocket stages with "giant party balloon"

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And it appears Musk is thinking about using a "giant party balloon" to take the upper stage of his rocket (which is created to operate at high altitude and carry the payload) out of orbital velocity and slow down its landing back on Earth - onto a bouncy castle.

Falcon 9 first stages perform engine maneuvers in space that send them back to Earth, where they can land on an offshore drone ship or landing pads near their launch sites. It demands some of the brightest minds in the field and some hefty funding.

It was just in 2012 that SpaceX launched and landed its first rocket and now the company is doing it with rockets significantly larger. It was used during the launch to the ISS in April.

Just like SpaceX's self-landing rockets and its giant net boat, the goal is to reduce the cost of launching rockets by reusing parts. However, there's now a new idea on the table, which Elon Musk shared with the world via Twitter.

If anyone else proposed this idea they would be ignored, but Elon Musk lately has a way of turning insane ideas into reality.

This is because unlike the first stage, which returns and lands safely to Earth, upper stage recovery from orbital velocity is way more challenging. It's much more hard to recover the second stage due to the heat shield, landing engines, and other equipment required to achieve it.

A giant balloon is "great for creating a giant object that retains its shape across all Mach regimes & drops ballistic coefficient by 2 orders of magnitude", Musk wrote. "Need to retarget closer to shore & position catcher ship like Mr Steven".

Even Musk, SpaceX's CEO and chief designer, admits it's a pretty wild idea. If his company can land two first stages of Falcon Heavy in ideal sync, this might also be accomplished, no matter how weird or insane it may sound.



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