Elon Musk says SpaceX’s Starship rocket could be ready to launch into space next month
It may have been billed as the world’s most powerful launch vehicle, but SpaceX’s long-awaited Starship rocket has yet to reach orbit.
Plagued by a series of delays, the blast-off has felt just a few months away since the beginning of the year, only for those hopes to be dashed each time.
Elon Musk now believes his $216m (£189m) ultra-superheavy rocket can finally be launched into space next month, although the famously optimistic billionaire also warned that November ‘seems most likely’ if October doesn’t is a guest.
Responding to a question on Twitter about when Starship’s first orbital flight might finally take place, he wrote: ‘Maybe late next month, but November seems very likely.
‘We will have two boosters and ships ready for orbital flight by then, with full stack production at about one every two months.’
SpaceX originally planned to launch Starship into orbit in January 2022, but was forced to delay after an environmental assessment of the Boca Chica launch site in Texas.
Elon Musk believes his Starship rocket could finally be launched into space next month, although the famously optimistic billionaire also warned that November ‘looks very likely’ if not
In response to a question on Twitter about when Starship’s first orbital flight might finally take place, he wrote: ‘Maybe late next month, but November seems very likely’
Musk estimates that each Starship launch will cost about $10 million when fully operational, which is significantly less than the $1 billion per launch. launch costs for the new NASA mega rocket
STAR SHIP AND SUPER HEAVY LONGER
The SpaceX Starship consists of two stages, the Super Heavy booster and the Starship vehicle on top.
The Super Heavy fires and gives the Starship the boost it needs to reach orbit.
Once in space, the Starship separates and continues its journey, while the Super Heavy returns to land on Earth.
It is designed to be a reusable launch vehicle that can bring humans to Mars, according to founder Elon Musk.
A new date was predicted for May this year, but this slipped again.
The company eventually got the go-ahead from the Federal Aviation Administration in June to launch its Starship rocket, but so far the orbital flight has yet to materialize.
The last time the vehicle left Earth was when a Starship prototype designated SN15 completed a high-altitude flight in Earth’s atmosphere and landed without exploding on May 5, 2021.
Since then, SpaceX has been preparing for the first orbital demonstration flight of Starship, which will see the vehicle explode atop a Super Heavy Booster for the first time.
Earlier this week, the huge first-stage booster fired up on the test stand for the first time with seven engines bursting.
However, that’s less than a quarter of the engines that will make up a fully loaded Super Heavy, which is designed to launch with 33 engines in total.
In addition to completing tests, SpaceX must obtain a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration before it can blast off.
Assuming this is granted, Musk hopes to do a full ‘wet dress rehearsal’ of the launch and test fire a 33-engine Super Heavy for the first time in the coming weeks.
NASA has chosen SpaceX to build a lander, based on the Starship craft, that will return humans to the moon this decade as part of the Artemis program.
This will see the next man and woman land on the lunar surface – as well as the first person of color – as early as 2025.
Starship’s first orbital flight will be with Raptor 2 engines, which Musk says are ‘much more capable and reliable’ than older models, providing 230 tons of thrust at sea level.
The Starship and Super Heavy rocket are collectively referred to as Starship and ‘represent a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the moon, Mars and beyond’, according to SpaceX.
“Starship will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry more than 100 metric tons to Earth orbit,” it added.
To date, the Starship line of rockets has seen nine test flights – some resulting in successful short-range jumps, while others led to explosions or crash landings.
To date, the Starship line of rockets has seen nine test flights – some resulting in successful jumps over short distances, while others led to explosions or crash landings
The static fire test is critical to ensure the upper stage is ready for an orbital launch. SpaceX has not yet specified a date for the mission
SpaceX’s Starship Serial Number 24 (SN24) started an intense grass fire after it performed an eight-second static fire test in Texas earlier this month
The most recent experimental launch involved the Starship SN15 prototype and took place in May 2021.
The craft completed a flight test at 33,000 feet in low-lying clouds, complete with successful ascent, engine cut-outs, flip maneuver, flap control and soft touchdown.
The Starship is designed to be fully reusable, with both the Super Heavy and the Starship able to land back on the pad, ready to be used in a future launch.
Musk estimates that each Starship launch will cost around $10 million (£8.8 million) when fully operational, which is significantly less than the $1 billion (£888 million) per launch. launch costs for the new NASA mega rocket, SLS.
While Starship is not yet in orbit, SpaceX already has paying customers for missions to the moon aboard the rocket.
“In 2023, Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa and the crew of dearMoon will become the first civilian passengers on a lunar Starship mission, featuring a flyby of the moon during their weeklong journey,” SpaceX explained.
“This flight is an important step towards providing access for people who dream of traveling to space.”
SPACEX’S STARSHIP TO GO TO THE MOON
SpaceX’s HLS Starship will include the company’s proven Raptor engines, along with design inspiration from the Falcon and Dragon vehicles.
It will have a spacious cabin and two airlocks for astronaut moonwalks.
Work on designing the lunar rover began in May 2020, and work will now begin to fully build it thanks to a $2.89 billion NASA contract.
The initial contract covers an unmanned demonstration mission and a manned lunar landing in 2025.
It is also planned that future lunar landings will be made using the Starship HLS.
It is equipped with a series of thrusters used in the final descent and takeoff from the lunar surface.
The final design will have a 100-day loiter capability in lunar orbit, allowing for multiple trips to the lunar surface.
It is also designed to carry extra propellant to allow an emergency ascent from the moon.
- Length: 50 m (164 ft 1 in)
- Width: 9 m (29 ft 6 in)
- Payload: 100-200 t (220,000-440,000 lb)
- Status: Under development
- First launch: Unmanned 2023
- Application: Reusable lunar lander