SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage boosters perform what SpaceX refers to as an entry burn to slow the stage as it reenters the atmosphere. Since the Starship Super Heavy booster is made of stainless steel will it still have to do an entry burn?

The Falcon 9 is made of aluminium which has a much lower melting point than steel.

  • $\begingroup$ @DarthPseudonym the Falcon 9 booster does a burn during reentry to manage heating on every landing. As Slarty answered, Superheavy should be able to get away without one. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 16:15

1 Answer 1


No. Superheavy will boost Starship until hot staging, when most of the engines will be turned off or throttled down, it will then do a powered turn and boost back until it is on course for return to the landing pad (or chosen test location) when all of the engines will be cut. It will then do a retro burn to land (or ditch in the sea) using the header tanks.

  • $\begingroup$ Any references for this? It would be good to give readers a sense of how aspirational this plan is until an OFT proves it. $\endgroup$
    – phil1008
    Commented Jan 7 at 9:17
  • $\begingroup$ Nothing specific, but there has been a lot of comment, I will have to see what I can find. We have already seen it demonstrated as far as the powered turn. After that options are limited. $\endgroup$
    – Slarty
    Commented Jan 7 at 10:25
  • $\begingroup$ I believe in "trust but verify". I think that we could assume that the Falcon 9's reentry burn during a return-to-launch-site mission slows the booster just enough to prevent the aluminum from melting. Then we could estimate how much faster the booster would be traveling without the re-entry burn, and then determine whether hot stainless steel could survive being pelted with oxygen molecules at those speeds. $\endgroup$
    – phil1008
    Commented Jan 7 at 20:32

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