Space Flights

SpaceX to test land a rocket stage using a giant party balloon

It seems Elon Musk has some pretty strange ideas in mind. The SpaceX CEO has announced that the company is going to experiment landing a rocket stage with the help of a giant party balloon.

“This is gonna sound crazy, but … SpaceX will try to bring rocket upper stage back from orbital velocity using a giant party balloon … and then land on a bouncy house,” Musk noted in posts shared on Twitter on Sunday, April 15.

In his post, Musk is talking about the upper stage of the two-stage Falcon 9 rocket. The upper stage is currently the only component of a rocket that the aerospace company has not yet tried to reuse in its pursuit of a fully reusable launch vehicle.

Till date, SpaceX has successfully retrieved back Falcon 9 first stages 23 times and re-flown 11 of them.  They return back to Earth on an offshore drone ship or landing pads near their launch sites by using grid-like fins during re-entry. The company has also reused its Dragon cargo spacecraft to deliver NASA cargo to the International Space Station. One of the Dragon cargo ships, which was launched earlier this month, is in orbit right now. It carried around 5,800 lbs. (2,630 kilograms) of supplies and science experiments to the orbiting lab including the RemoveDebris spacecraft which will be used to test ways to clean up space debris in the near future.

Although Musk did not reveal a specific timetable for testing the giant party balloon or details on how it is going to work, he did mention in his posts that a balloon has a good shape that can help a rocket stage to withstand the stresses experienced during its return to Earth.

He said SpaceX already brings the upper stages of its Falcon 9 rockets back to Earth and disposes of in the Pacific Ocean so that they don’t add to the already existing space junk.

About the author

Megha Kedia

Megha Kedia

Megha is a seasoned reporter with over six years of experience covering news in technology, science and related fields. At The Space News, Megha covers space research & technology news.

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