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article imageSpace X looking for two more landing sites on Space Coast

By Karen Graham     Jul 19, 2016 in Science
Even though Space X successfully launched its Dragon spacecraft and brought back its Falcon 9 first-stage booster rocket to a safe landing on Monday, Space X now wants two more landing sites so it can do three rocket landings simultaneously.
Space X told the Orlando Sentinel it is seeking federal permission for two new landing areas so it can land its spent rockets, saying they are needed for the eventuality of landing three rockets simultaneously, or at least within minutes of each other.
While this latest news from Space X might seem a bit audacious on their part — after all, it has only launched and landed a few rockets, it is part of dreaming big and carrying through with that dream that makes it seem so exciting. I mean, just think of it — landing three spent booster rockets at the same time. How cool is that?
Looking north along Missile Row on Florida s Space Coast.
Looking north along Missile Row on Florida's Space Coast.
Cape Canaveral AFB
But seriously, folks, Elon Musk says there is a very good reason for the requested landing sites. It's all in preparation for the launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket later this year. The private spaceflight company says it might even try landing the Falcon Heavy rocket on one of its drone barges, a procedure it is still working to perfect.
Eventually, though, Space X wants to land the spent Falcon Heavy rockets on solid ground and to do that it needs to construct the two additional landing sites at Cape Canaveral’s Air Force Base, where they already have one port and the real estate to build two more, says Gizmodo.
As the Verge explains, the Falcon Heavy rocket is built from three separate rockets (one primary and two side boosters), and if Space X remains on schedule in launching the Falcon Heavy later this year, it will need landing pads for each rocket booster.
Whether or not the Falcon Heavy lands on a barge or on solid ground, one thing is for sure, it will be a major milestone for Space X. Elon Musk confirmed this, tweeting that he "can't wait to see all three cores of Falcon Heavy come back for landings."
Falcon Heavy - World's most powerful rocket
Space X's Falcon Heavy rocket will be a sight to behold. Capable of lifting the equivalent of a fully loaded 737 jetliner--complete with passengers, luggage, and fuel into orbit, the Falcon Heavy is only surpassed by the payload capabilities of one rocket, the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973.
Comparison of launch vehicles and size of payload to low Earth orbit (LEO).
Comparison of launch vehicles and size of payload to low Earth orbit (LEO).
Space X
The liftoff thrust of the Falcon Heavy is equal to almost eighteen 747 aircraft at full power. That is because the Falcon Heavy has three separate rocket cores, and at liftoff, the center core and the two boosters will be operating at full thrust. After liftoff, the center core engines will throttle down, and once the two side cores separate, the center core engines will again throttle back up.
Interestingly, each of the side cores, or boosters is equivalent to the first stage of a Falcon 9 booster with nine Merlin engines in each core. And for those of us that follow the technology, the Falcon Heavy can still complete its mission even when an unplanned engine shutdown is identified.
Here are some quick stats on the Falcon Heavy:
Height: 70 meters, or 229.6 feet.
Total Width: 12.2 meters or 39.9 feet.
The three cores, with 27 Merlin engines altogether, generate 22,819 kilonewtons (5.13 million pounds) of thrust at liftoff.
The Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to deliver astronauts into space, and ultimately to the Moon and Mars.
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