- One potential way to reuse rocket boosters or first stage rockets is to launch from the ocean as SeaLaunch does, and position the launch so that a handy island is down range just far enough for the reusable booster to land there without having to fly back to the launch point. Then it would make sense to expend some money making the engines efficient and reusable and not loose the investment with every launch. Recovering solid rocket motor casings at sea just does not seem to me to be saving much.
- To recover and reuse a second stage, a launch at sea might be positioned so that an island is just where the second stage would re-enter and fall to Earth after one orbit.
- The problem with this scheme is that although the U.S. owns some islands in the Pacific, none of them is in any congressman's district.
- An alternate reuse strategy is to pack parachutes on the first stage. Probably a first high speed parachute that leads out a second middle speed parachute that drags out a paraglider. The first two chutes would be expended. The first stage then glides down to a recovery vessel that is speeding along in the ocean to match forward velocity. Then the paraglider flares out to reduce downward velocity as it lands on an air mattress on the deck of the recovery vehicle. A robust engine that does not need very expensive refurbishing after every flight may be possible.
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