Having successfully launched and landed a few single rockets, SpaceX is now planning a simultaneous triple rocket landing. This is going to look cool. A launch of the Falcon Heavy's smaller cousin, the Falcon 9 (Image: SpaceX)
SpaceX told The Orlando Sentinel that it's seeking government permission for two extra landing pads in preparation for the launch of the new Falcon Heavy rocket. The private spaceflight company says that it might attempt to land its Falcon Heavy rockets on one of its drone barges — a protocol that the SpaceX has nearly perfected in the past year. Eventually, however, SpaceX wants to land three rockets on solid ground. The extra two ports SpaceX hopes to build at Cape Canaveral's Air Force Base, where the company already has one port, would give it the real estate to do that.
When the Falcon Heavy launches, it will be the world's most powerful rocket, beating the current title-holder, the Delta IV, with more than twice the power. The Falcon Heavy will be capable of lifting up to 54 tonnes of weight into space. To get that much thrust, it actually has three separate rocket cores, and that means that the company will need multiple landing pads to successfully save all three rockets.
Musk went on Twitter to further explain that two of those rockets would land practically simultaneously, while the third would arrive after a slight delay. You can see how the process would unfold in this animation the company put together:
Three rocket landings at once certainly sounds like something to see, but Musk also went on to hint at one more landing down the road. While the rocket cores in the Falcon Heavy are designed to return, the upper stage of the rocket is not — not yet anyway. Musk tweeted:
Really tempting to redesign upper stage for return too (Falcon Heavy has enough power), but prob best to stay focused on the Mars rocket
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 18, 2016
Prob best to stay focused on the Mars rocket, indeed.