SpaceX Starship, the world’s largest rocket, ready for first test flight

SpaceX Starship, the world’s largest rocket, ready for first test flight

SpaceX Starship, the world’s largest rocket, ready for first test flight

SpaceX is counting down to the first test flight Monday of Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built, designed to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars and beyond.

The giant rocket is scheduled to lift off from Starbase, SpaceX’s spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas, at 8 a.m. Central Time (1300 GMT).

Fallback times are scheduled for later in the week if Monday’s launch attempt is delayed, something SpaceX’s billionaire founder Elon Musk has said is a distinct possibility.

“It’s a very risky flight,” Musk said at a live event on Twitter Spaces on Sunday. “It’s the first launch of a very complicated giant rocket.

“There are a million ways this rocket could fail,” he added. “We’ll be very careful and if we see something that worries us, we’ll postpone it.”

Musk said he wants to “lower expectations” because “he will probably not be successful tomorrow, if success means reaching orbit.”

US space agency NASA has chosen the Starship spacecraft to ferry astronauts to the Moon in late 2025 – a mission known as Artemis III – for the first time since the Apollo program ended in 1972.

The spacecraft consists of a 50-foot-tall spacecraft designed to carry crew and cargo that sits atop a 230-foot-tall first-stage Super Heavy rocket.

Collectively referred to as Starship, the spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket have never flown together, although there have been several suborbital test flights of the spacecraft alone.

If all goes to plan, the superheavy booster will separate from the spacecraft about three minutes after launch and sink in the Gulf of Mexico.

The spacecraft, which has six engines of its own, will continue at an altitude of nearly 150 miles, completing a near-circle of the Earth before crashing into the Pacific Ocean about 90 minutes after launch.

“If it gets into orbit, it’s a huge success,” Musk said.

“If we get far enough away from the stepping stone before something goes wrong, I think I’d consider it a success,” he said. “Just don’t blow up the springboard.

“The payload for this mission is information,” he said. “Information that allows us to improve the design of future starship constructions.”

– ‘Multi-Planet Civilization’ –

SpaceX conducted a successful test firing of 33 Raptor engines on Starship’s first stage booster in February.

The Super Heavy booster was anchored to the ground during the test firing, called static firing, to prevent it from lifting.

NASA will take astronauts into lunar orbit itself in November 2024 using its own heavy rocket ship called the Space Launch System (SLS), which has been under development for more than a decade.

The spaceship is both larger and more powerful than SLS.

It generates 17 million pounds of thrust, more than double that of the Saturn V rockets used to send Apollo astronauts to the Moon.

SpaceX plans to eventually put a spacecraft into orbit and then refuel it with another spacecraft so it can continue its journey to Mars or beyond.

Musk said the goal is to make Starship reusable and reduce the price to a few million dollars per flight.

“Over the long term — long term, which means, I don’t know, two or three years — we should achieve complete and rapid reusability,” he said.

The ultimate goal is to establish bases on the Moon and Mars and put humans on “the path to becoming a multi-planet civilization,” Musk said.

“We are in this brief moment of civilization where it is possible to become a multi-planet species,” he said. “That’s our goal. I think we have a chance.”


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