SpaceX’s Long-Awaited Debut of Starship Could Happen Next Week

SpaceX’s Long-Awaited Debut of Starship Could Happen Next Week

After months—if not years—of anticipation, Starship’s inaugural orbital test flight may soon be more than just a distant mirage for Elon Musk’s private space venture.

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According to Ars Technica, SpaceX has moved the Starship’s Super Heavy booster to a launch assembly at the company’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, while engineers added shielding to the mount and tower to protect them from the heat produced by liftoff. future of the rocket. . Additionally, and as Ars also points out, NASA appears to have pre-booked the use of its WB-57 aircraft for April 10 and 11; the space agency would use the high-altitude vehicle to track the megarocket during launch.

Additionally, live LabPadre video coverage from earlier today shows SpaceX’s “sticks”—giant mechanical arms attached to the launch tower—in position to lift the Starship’s upper stage and place it atop the stage first to fully assemble the jumbo rocket.

Screenshot: LabPadre

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Anonymous sources told Ars Technica that Starship could launch on Monday, April 10, adding that SpaceX could receive the coveted launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) within the first two weeks of April. However, until the coveted license is issued, this racket isn’t going anywhere.

That caveat aside, it can finally come together for SpaceX and its fully reusable, super-heavy launch vehicle, one that the company has been eager to see fly for quite some time now. SpaceX has been trying to conduct an orbital launch test of its megarocket since the summer of 2021, conducting a series of limited static fire tests of the booster engines.

Related Article: The Ultimate Guide to SpaceX’s Starship Megarocket

In February, the company conducted the first full-scale static fire test of the Starship system, which SpaceX officials said was the “last box to check” before the rocket’s first orbital launch attempt. The static fire test saw the Starship’s Super Heavy Booster lift off 31 of its 33 Raptor 2 engines, which Musk had deemed “still enough engines to reach orbit”.

Starship’s orbital test flight will see the fully integrated 394-foot-long (120-meter) rocket lift off, while the upper stage completes less than a full orbit around Earth before re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. SpaceX is betting that its Starship rocket will be the rocket of the future, sending government and commercial cargo into Earth orbit and beyond, with plans to reach the Moon and possibly Mars one day.

Pending the success of the rocket’s test flight, SpaceX plans to move forward with operational Starship launches, starting with the launch into orbit of its next-generation Starlink satellites. SpaceX also has a $2.89 billion contract with NASA, using Starship to land humans on the moon by the end of 2025 as part of the space agency’s Artemis 3 mission.

We may have learned not to hold our breath when it comes to the promise of a Starship launch, but it might actually come together this time. I mean, things get pretty serious once the giant bat wings come out.

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