This video was released yesterday by SpaceX.
We players of Kerbal Space Program (KSP) know Squad developers are working diligently on an economic model for Kerbal Space Program. One of the things I’d love to see is researchable reuse technology to decrease the cost of launches. We are all familiar with the solid rocket boosters NASA used for decades with the Space Shuttle. They were reusable, after a fashion. I’ve heard various scientists and experts at various time discuss this and the consensus was the boosters, though reusable, did not really save as much money as one might think. Not nearly as much as most estimations. Some say the claims were more political than reality. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I am sure I could go about gathering data on expenditures, compare that with non-reusable booster costs and come up with my own conclusions. The information is public record after all. But I’m not actually interested in spending that much effort on something that is now history.
What I am interested in digging into is this F9R technology SpaceX is working on. It’s fascinating and seems so damn retro when you look at old films like Destination Moon. My experiences with KSP tells me you shouldn’t spend extra fuel lifting excess fuel out of a gravity well – if you follow my meaning. But fuel is also cheap. If the thrust to weight (TWR) of the rocket is sufficiently high to allow extra fuel for a controlled landing of the booster… why not do it? The booster no doubt costs a lot more than the extra fuel. And building such a booster in KSP today is more than possible. You just have to put some LT-2 landing struts as well as an RC-L01 Remote Guidance Unit on a Rockomax booster and you’ve got enough computer to land it safely. I suppose the real question is whether or not that’ll be something Squad embraces when we finally get the Career Mode economic module. I certainly hope so.