Elon Musk’s ‘Super Heavy’ Starship to Launch As Early as Monday – Will it Reach Orbit?
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is preparing for the launch of its flagship Starship spacecraft, which marks a pivotal moment in commercial space travel.
SpaceX aims to launch Starship as soon as Monday from its private facility in Texas along the Gulf Coast, the company said in a Saturday tweet.
The move comes after the Federal Aviation Administration issued a Starship launch license to SpaceX on Friday.
The Starship spacecraft, dubbed Super Heavy, is a towering stainless steel rocket, almost 400 feet tall, with an impressive 33 main engines.
The company recently stacked Starship prototype 24 on Super Heavy booster prototype 7 in preparation for the launch, the first-ever launch with both sections together.
For this demo, SpaceX will not attempt any landings of the rocket or the spacecraft off-planet. Instead, everything will fall into the ocean.
Meanwhile, Musk has estimated that the spacecraft has a 50% chance of reaching Earth’s orbit.
“I’m not saying it will get to orbit, but I am guaranteeing excitement. It won’t be boring,” Musk reportedly promised at a Morgan Stanley conference last month.
“I think it’s got, I don’t know, hopefully about a 50% chance of reaching orbit.”
Starship Could Send 100 People to Mars
The Starship spacecraft could comfortably accommodate up to 100 people on a trip to Mars and lift as much as 250 tons, courtesy of its huge muscle.
Musk initially plans to use the spacecraft to launch satellites into low-Earth orbit, including his own Starlinks for internet service, before sending people.
Starship even outpaces NASA’s powerful moon rockets of yesteryear, the Saturn V from the bygone Apollo era, and the Space Launch System from the Artemis program that logged its first lunar trip late last year. It also outflanks the long-forgotten Soviet Union’s failed N1 moon rocket.
If Starship successfully passes the three-minute mark after the launch, the booster will separate and plunge into the Gulf of Mexico, with the spacecraft continuing eastwards towards the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans before ditching near Hawaii.
The entire flight test will last roughly 1.5 hours and will not reach a full orbit of the Earth.
The launch is set to take place from Boca Chica Beach, near Brownsville, South Padre Island, Texas.
The Starship’s launch pad is equipped with robotic arms, called “chopsticks,” which will eventually capture a returning booster as it lands.
SpaceX is also in the midst of reconfiguring one of its two Florida-based launch pads to accommodate Starships further down the line.
Musk’s ambitious Starship program has great potential to revolutionize space exploration, paving the way for humans to launch deep into the solar system.
More Space Firms Start to Focus on Reusable Rockets
Earlier this month, Beijing Tianbing Technology, a private Chinese space firm, launched a kerosene-oxygen rocket into space.
The liquid-propellant Tianlong-2 rocket marks good progress in the development of reusable rockets as it offers significantly greater control over the flight.
The idea behind reusable rockets is to recover the ultra-expensive rocket boosters used for launching spacecraft.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is the world’s first orbital-class reusable rocket.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.