SpaceX prepares Starship for another orbital test flight

SpaceX, the private space company founded by Elon Musk, is getting ready for another orbital test flight of its Starship rocket, the most powerful and ambitious launch vehicle ever built.

Starship is fully stacked on the launch pad

On Tuesday, September 5, SpaceX stacked its latest Starship vehicle on the launch pad at its Starbase facility in South Texas. The vehicle consists of two parts: the Ship 25 upper-stage prototype and the Booster 9 first-stage rocket, also known as Super Heavy. The fully stacked Starship stands at 394 feet (120 meters) tall and has 33 Raptor engines that can generate a thrust of about 70 meganewtons.

SpaceX posted a video of the stacking process on X, formerly known as Twitter, and Musk reposted it with a caption: “Starship is ready to launch, awaiting FAA license approval.”

SpaceX prepares Starship for another orbital test flight
SpaceX prepares Starship for another orbital test flight

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the agency that regulates rocket launches in the US and issues licenses for them. SpaceX has not revealed when it expects to receive the license or when it plans to launch Starship. However, Musk has said that he hopes to launch Starship by the end of this summer.

Starship aims to make history with its second orbital flight

This will be the second orbital test flight of Starship, after the first one ended in an explosion on April 20 this year. The first flight aimed to send the upper stage partway around Earth, with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. However, the two stages failed to separate as planned and SpaceX detonated the vehicle high above the Gulf of Mexico four minutes after liftoff.

Despite the failure, SpaceX said that the first flight was a success in terms of learning and improving. The company has made more than 1,000 design changes to Starship since then, including switching to a “hot staging” strategy, in which the upper stage lights its engines before it has fully separated from the booster. This required modifications to Booster 9, such as installing a heat shield and a “vented interstage” to protect it from Ship 25’s fire.

The second flight will have similar goals as the first one, but with more confidence and experience. SpaceX hopes to demonstrate that Starship can perform an orbital flight and reentry safely and reliably. If successful, Starship will make history as the first fully reusable launch vehicle ever flown to orbit.

Starship is designed to revolutionize space exploration

Starship is not just a rocket; it is a vision for the future of humanity in space. SpaceX envisions Starship as a versatile and reusable transportation system that can carry people and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

Starship has already secured a multi-billion dollar contract with NASA to land astronauts on the Moon as part of the Artemis program. SpaceX also plans to use Starship to send the first humans to Mars in this decade and eventually establish a permanent colony on the Red Planet.

Starship is the culmination of Musk’s dream to make life multiplanetary and ensure the survival of our species in case of a catastrophe on Earth. As he said in a recent interview: “These magnitudes are madness to consider, but necessary to make consciousness multiplanetary.”

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