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San Nicholis island as a SpaceX first stage landing site

July 31, 2014

San Nicholis island as a SpaceX first stage landing site

I have argued in a post from three months ago that the best use of a SpaceX first stage reusability would be to return to earth the first stage after a ballistic reentry and not return the stage to its landing site propulsively. This results in an unwanted ocean landing unless I argued some months ago that there might be a launch site with some convenient islands near by?

For Vandenberg AFB this would be the channel islands, however during parts of the year the channel islands are to the east of the sun synchronous orbit insertion so a first stage would have propulsively dog leg east to get to one of them. Which one is closest? I think this would be San  Nicholas island. It has a new heavy-duty pier installed as of 2002/3,

also it is a secured facility out of the way from any population centers and should as a munitions test site pass any EPA regulatory requirements. A barge could ship the first stage back to Vandenberg AFB. Could the first stage be shipped back to Hawthorne from San Nicolas? In addition San Nicolas is home to tracking and range assets.

the idea is based on my post from a 7  June 2014 dealing with First stage landing sites in the leeward islands from a Puerto Rico launch site the leeward islands may be close to LEO launch’s trajectory’s, Dominica for example is  350 miles south/south-east of Puerto Rico and a Falcon heavy core could come down in Barbados or St Lucia  are 500 + miles.

Puerto Rico being closer to the equator makes possible bring a falcon heavy core stage all the way to orbit but without a payload, I would do this with extra RP-1 onboard as a storable propellant as the only payload.


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