SpaceX Plans 18 Landings Per Year on New Pads

SpaceX plans to build three new landing pads at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., for use by its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. In a draft version of an environmental impact study prepared for the 45th Space Wing, the company estimates that the new pads will allow as many as 18 landings per year—up from the original plan of 12. The new launch pads are part of SpaceX’s overall goal to improve “the cost and frequency of launches” in accordance with Air Force and DARPA statements that a higher mission tempo is a key requirement for the US to respond to the increasing militarization of space. The new pads will also include testing areas for SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, which is part of the company’s plan for manned spaceflight. The final version of the environmental impact study is due out in the coming weeks, according to a 45th Space Wing spokesperson. The draft report does not offer a timeline for completion of the work on the new launching pads.