Although the synchronous landing of the Falcon Heavy side boosters looks impressive, they seem to have traveled a long way back to the landing zones.

How does this compare with Falcon 9 launches with land landing?

Would it have been more efficient in this case to land the side boosters on additional droneships?

I'm interested in whether the amount of droneships was a bottleneck here, or if the way it was done was actually the best option.

Also, are there any plans known for possible multi-droneship missions?


Update:

  • 1
    When Red Dragon was on the schedule, it was going to land the side boosters on droneships and expend the center core. Moot point now, though. – DylanSp Feb 6 at 21:56
  • I'll have to find a source, but Elon musk has mentioned the possibility of center expended, side on barge FH config. – NPSF3000 Feb 24 at 20:49
  • 1
    Thanks for the hint @NPSF3000. I have read this, too, and included the reference in the question. – Everyday Astronaut Feb 25 at 19:32
  • Thing is, if the side boosters land in the sea, you kind of have to expand the central core since it'll separate even further away – Antzi Feb 26 at 5:27
  • Good to hear they are keeping with the naming convention. – user1666620 Feb 26 at 9:52
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Currently SpaceX has only one drone ship in the Atlantic, Of Course I Still Love You, so it wasn't an option. As far as I know, they aren't planning to build more; their goal is to do as many return-to-launch-site (RTLS) landings as possible in the future.

Landing all three on drone ships would allow them to expend more fuel in boosting, increasing the potential payload of a Falcon Heavy launch, but it would add several days of sea travel to the turnaround time of a booster.

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