Can we use magnets to land a spaceship (Starship)?

We could give the landing legs a magnetic flat surface or something and then the controller can reduce the magnetic strength or in other words, reduce the levitation height of the space ship.

  • $\begingroup$ You probably could, but what would be the point of that? It would add a lot of weight for little to no benefit. $\endgroup$
    – Topcode
    May 9, 2022 at 20:35
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ magnetic levitation is possible for heights of 0 to about 50 mm but impossible for heights of some meters. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    May 9, 2022 at 21:00
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    $\begingroup$ Magnets can be used to create a "cushion" effect on small scale, or facilitate construction of an induction brake; would an answer describing something like that satisfy you? Welcome to Space Staxchange. $\endgroup$
    – user47149
    May 9, 2022 at 21:16

1 Answer 1


We could, but we won't. Other ways are more effective and reliable.

Magnets or electromagnets on the spacecraft add mass and complexity. Extra fuel to make a landing slower and more precise adds only mass.

Magnets on the landing pad instead of the spacecraft must be very close to the landing point, because their force diminishes rapidly with distance (inverse square law). But not even SpaceX is that accurate: as of a year ago we've heard no more reports of their Octograbber that can scoot out to wherever the spacecraft landed.

For a mature technology that grabs the landing spacecraft ("reduces the levitation height"), try a beartrap, perhaps with multiple cables outside of the rocket exhaust.


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