So I remember reading that there's a 15% performance penalty to landing Falcon 9's first stage on the barge, and 30% penalty for RTLS (Return to Launch Site).

But of course it would be very preferable to land on land. More room for error, no need to worry about weather on the ocean. Simpler.

So… if SpaceX is building their own launch site at the very south-east tip of Texas, could they just do the land-landing someplace else than the launch site? The CC Landing Zone 1, perhaps, and if that's too far away, then maybe a bit north, like Louisiana.

Does that make any sense at all?

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    $\begingroup$ It makes sense, but they want to avoid launching over inhabited areas in case of a problem during launch. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Dec 28 '15 at 12:41
  • $\begingroup$ The only advantage I see to this is not having to carry the extra fuel. As far as I'm aware launches are only done in good weather and having more room does not seem to be an issue - spaceX has been able to navigate to the landing site without any problems... $\endgroup$ – ventsyv Dec 28 '15 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ It's a valid question though, not having to do the flyback is a big deal. They could use the spaceport in NM; that's in fairly sparsely populated area. $\endgroup$ – ventsyv Dec 28 '15 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe Elon Musk can strike a deal with Castro? :-) $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff Dec 28 '15 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ "having more room does not seem to be an issue" — IIRC one of the last launches, with DSCOVR, did not attempt landing on the barge because of rough sea. Land landings should have a better chance of good weather at landing site. $\endgroup$ – radex Dec 28 '15 at 15:43

The Boca Chica launch site has a very narrow flight path it will be allowed, that avoids land overflight. The LZ-1 pad would require flying over the width of the state to get there.

A downrange landing site is ideal, thus the barge ideas.

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