Space X is looking to build two new landing pads at the Cape Canaveral Air Force base in California, so that it can attempt to land all three Falcon 9 rockets used to make up a Falcon Heavy launch. However, it needs to receive approval first and as part of that process it's asking the public for comment on the project.
“At this time, we are in the scoping phase of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and are soliciting input regarding project concerns and/or alternatives from the public regarding SpaceX‘s additional landing pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,” said Bryan Purtrell, a spokesperson for the Air Force base, in a chat with the Orlando Business Journal.
Although not regularly used, we have seen two landings take place at Cape Canaveral in the past year. Space X famously landed its first Falcon 9 booster successfully at the site, following competition for headlines from Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin rocket landing a few days before.[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u26-CIDaazQ']
Generally Space X prefers landings on its drone barge, as those don't require as much fuel to return to. However when it comes to launching its Falcon Heavy rocket, which makes use of three Falcon 9 boosters, Space X wants plenty of space to bring them home, hence the push for three landing pads.
It will need that approval first though. If you happen to live near Cape Canaveral and wish to make an input of your own, you have until the 3rd August to do so. You can contact the project manager, Eva Long, about the matter at [email protected].
Although the approval process will take a little longer, if received, Space X hopes to have the landing pads up and running before the end of the year, when it hopes to trial the first full launch of a Falcon Heavy.
KitGuru Says: Not sure I'd want launch pads being built near my house, but here's hoping this goes off without a scratch. If Space X can manage to return all three of its Falcon Heavy boosters to Earth one after the other, that will be a huge achievement.