| Welcome to Global Village Space

Saturday, April 13, 2024

SpaceX gearing up for another launch of its Starship rocket

The first integrated test in April 2023 ended in a spectacular explosion when the two stages failed to separate.

SpaceX is gearing up for another groundbreaking launch of its Starship rocket, a pivotal step not just for the company but for the future of space exploration. This Thursday, the world will witness another attempt by SpaceX to launch Starship, a rocket that holds the key to NASA’s ambitious plans of landing astronauts on the Moon and Elon Musk’s vision of colonizing Mars. Despite facing setbacks with two previous attempts ending in explosions, SpaceX has embraced a rapid trial-and-error approach to accelerate development, a strategy that has proven successful in the past.

Impressive Stature of Starship

Standing at a towering 397 feet (121 meters), Starship surpasses the iconic Statue of Liberty by a comfortable 90 feet. Its Super Heavy Booster generates a staggering 16.7 million pounds (74.3 Meganewtons) of thrust, nearly double that of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), which currently holds the title of the world’s second most powerful rocket.

Read More: SpaceX faces legal battle over alleged retaliation against engineers

Ambitious Objectives for Starship’s Third Launch Test

This upcoming launch test is set to be Starship’s most ambitious yet. Apart from reaching greater heights and distances, SpaceX aims to test several key functionalities. One of the objectives is to open and close Starship’s payload door, testing its capability to deliver satellites and other cargo into space. Additionally, SpaceX plans to re-ignite the ship’s engines in space, a crucial step towards refueling Starships in orbit, paving the way for more ambitious missions in the future.

Road to Mars and the Moon

SpaceX’s development of Starship began in 2018, starting with short hops of just the upper stage. The first integrated test in April 2023 ended in a spectacular explosion when the two stages failed to separate, resulting in the rocket crashing into the Gulf of Mexico. The second test in November 2023 saw the booster separating from the spaceship, but both stages exploded over the ocean. Despite these setbacks, SpaceX remains undeterred, with the FAA identifying 17 corrective actions SpaceX needed to make, which have been addressed.

Rapid Iterative Development 

SpaceX’s “rapid iterative development” strategy has been the cornerstone of its success, notably with its Falcon 9 rockets, Dragon capsule, and Starlink Internet satellite constellation. Falcon 9 rockets have become workhorses for NASA and the commercial sector, while the Dragon capsule regularly transports astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station. The Starlink Internet satellite constellation now covers dozens of countries, providing high-speed internet access to remote areas.

Read More: SpaceX successfully launches Falcon 9 rocket with four crew members

As SpaceX races against time to be ready for NASA’s planned return of astronauts to the Moon in 2026, using a modified Starship as the lander vehicle, the stakes are higher than ever. Not only does SpaceX need to demonstrate the ability to launch, fly, and land Starship safely, but it must also show it can send multiple “Starship tankers” into orbit to refuel the main Starship for its journey to the Moon.