SpaceX and Sea Launch

Another speculative thought. Suppose we have all been assuming that Falcons will try to land on a barge at sea or accept the payload penalty of RTLS, when all the tests have actually been in support of a launch at sea to a land recovery.

Sea Launch has the sea going craft to launch large rockets at sea. They are also, according to rumors, not making quite as much money as the investors would prefer. It seems possible that they might be at least semi-motivated to sell off the under performing launch assets.

What if the real intention of SpaceX is to acquire those assets at bargain prices for use in house. Launch a few hundred miles at sea from Vandenburg for a feet dry landing there, with the actual launch location dictated by the desired launch azimuth. The first stage would never have an IIP intersecting property on land, while the second stage would have an IIP that moved fast enough to minimize theoretical injury and property damage probabilities. A day out to launch and a day back. Twice a week seems possible.

From Brownsville the trip would be even shorter. A quick run to a point that gave the right launch  azimuth and distance from the cape for a Falcon recovery there. Possibly a day trip with the launch frequency that implies if the business develops.


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I do construction for a living and aerospace as an occasional hobby. I am an inventor and a bit of an entrepreneur. I've been self employed since the 1980s and working in concrete since the 1970s. When I grow up, I want to work with rockets and spacecraft. I did a stupid rocket trick a few decades back and decided not to try another hot fire without adult supervision. Haven't located much of that as we are all big kids when working with our passions.

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7 Responses to SpaceX and Sea Launch

  1. born01930 says:

    Even better…why not do both? I assume (because I have no idea) getting some sort of an FAA cert to fly over a semi populated area would be onerous. Gives you all sorts of options…some land launch some sea launch. Or maybe they could buy Sealaunch equipment and convert for recovery?

  2. ken anthony says:

    Again brilliant and would fix another problem. They will need even more launch facilities to keep up with their manifest and building more sea launch platforms would be much simpler than the permissions and delays they’ve had to deal with.

    Tax incentives are nice but the costs are probably much higher than the benefits.

  3. Paul D. says:

    How far down range will the F9R first stage land if recovery propellant use is minimized? What about the Falcon Heavy booster and core stages?

  4. Paul D. says:

    Also: how about a launch from New Mexico, with the first stage landing at Brownsville?

  5. John hare says:

    I think I see where you are going with this. Monday vburg to nm. Tues is NM to Brownsville. Wed is Brownsville to the cape. Thursday is cape to off shore recovery. Friday is truck to vburg.

  6. john hare says:

    I think that is too much flight over populated areas, but don’t know for sure. I also think it probable that the legs might be too long for the 1st stage to reach. The core of an F9H should make it though, which leaves the question of the boosters recovery.

    Somehow this reminded me of the equatorial belt of ships for recovery and launch from a comment made by someone years ago. Everything launching east from ship to ship, roughly like a shotgun start for a golf tournament.

  7. D. F. Linton says:

    Not Brownsville to the Cape; Brownsville to a barge on Lake Okeechobee. 1900 km2 of open water with mild wave states and easy Gulf of Mexico access for returns. The low surrounding population density will greatly reduce landing casualty expectations compared to Brevard and possibly Orange County overflights.

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