Will SpaceX land a Super Heavy booster, as part of a space-bound flight, in 2024?

Resolves YES on a Super Heavy booster being used in a mission intended to fly a Starship to space (>100km altitude) and subsequently landing in one piece in 2024. Fate of the second stage is unimportant, as long as space is its intended destination.

A ground landing, landing on a barge, being caught by the launch tower, or anything else that brings a Super Heavy booster intact to a resting position on something solid and not airborne counts. A soft "landing" in a body of water does not count. A catch by an aircraft does not count until the aircraft lands.

Super Heavy must not explode for at least ten seconds after landing for it to count as having landed in one piece.

The relevant timezone for "in 2024" is local time at the landing site.

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@NGK Big limit order up.

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Elon just said the odds for catching the booster this year are 80 or 90% (https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/1776669097490776563 at 11:30)

@dp9000 We know the Musk time dilation factor is about 3.8, do we know the Musk probability inflation factor? Anyone tracking his calibration curve?

I have a fairly hard time believing the odds are that high. It seems to me that SpaceX's "move fast and RUD things" approach has to be taken down a gear for the chopstick catches, because destroying their only launch tower would be an unacceptable setback. They must have high confidence in success before even attempting a catch, which means more simulated catches in the ocean to validate everything first. I think this means we should assume a slower timeline than would otherwise be typical for SpaceX.

I know they're building more launch towers, but they take a long time to build and will still be very valuable, I don't think they'll be wanting to treat any as disposable for tests like the vehicles currently are.

So whilst I believe Musk's "if the virtual catch succeeds, we'll try a real one", I think it'll likely be several more flights before that precondition is satisfied.

They're doing the fourth flight in May, which leaves seven months in the year. I don't think they'll be launching every month, despite their ambitions, I think it'll be closer to every second month. So if they're to attempt a catch this year, that's maybe four or five more launches from now for them to be confident enough in the landing to give it a go and risk destroying the launch tower. Starting from basically scratch - we haven't yet had a successful landing burn relight, and control of the booster during its descent was poor in the last flight.

I don't want to look it up to cite how many landing attempts it took to land Falcon 9, since they have a lot of experience now and the knowledge from Falcon 9 is going to transfer to SuperHeavy - it wouldn't take them as many landing attempts to achieve the same thing with a new vehicle. But landing on chopsticks seems more to require more precision, so neither would you want to use Falcon 9's landing attempt timeline as an upper bound.

Best of luck to them though, I'll be super excited to see it when it happens.

@chrisjbillington Spreadsheet that calculates it to 3.8 also doesn’t account for the fact that there are still many years between now and the completion of some of the timeline predictions he has made in the past. Such as Starship missions to Mars in 2024 etc. That could easily be 8+ years away pushing the dilation factor up.

@NGK Yeah I don't take the 3.8 too seriously. For one, what you said. For two, it's clear that his near-term forecasts are much less bad than his longer-term ones. E.g most do think IFT-4 will launch next month, and if it doesn't it'll probably be the month after, so Musk time is 1× to 2× on these shorter timescales. So it's worse than 3.8 on longer timescales, and better on short timescales.

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@SlipperySloe that argument applies to super heavy too! It also doesn't have legs or plans to add them.

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