SpaceX will try their luck at recovering every stage of a rocket and not just the first. In order to do so, they are already thinking about some unusual tactics to get more control over those stages. Elon Musk, CEO and lead designer of SpaceX has claimed that SpaceX will try to incorporate a “giant party balloon” to take the rocket upper stages out of orbital velocity. He, apparently, is aware of the fact that the use of “giant party balloon” sounds “crazy” but he is yet to shed more light on this.
SpaceX will try to bring rocket upper stage back from orbital velocity using a giant party balloon
— E “D” M (@elonmusk) April 15, 2018
SpaceX has estimated a cost of $62 million to launch a Falcon 9 rocket with a first stage landing factored in. To reduce the tremendous expenses of all of this, SpaceX needs to figure out to slow down the upper stage reliably and recover it with a relatively low-cost method. The low-cost method for SpaceX appears to be the use of the balloon. If they succeed at that, SpaceX will be able to both reduce its own expenses and make launches more attractive and fun to customers.
The use of a balloon can also be considered as being an eco-friendly tool. It could be worth a shot to use a balloon, no matter how ludicrous the idea sounds at first. Elon Musk has added an extra remark noting that a balloon would drop the stage’s ballistic coefficient or the ability to overcome air resistance by 2 orders of magnitude while it will be able to preserve its shape across all Mach regimes.