A major milestone was reached on Monday by SpaceX for an orbital test flight of the Starship, the company’s future flagship.
Why is this important?In recent years, SpaceX has revolutionized space travel by developing rocket stages capable of returning to Earth after a mission. However, these are not yet fully reusable. Starship, which has been in development for several years, should soon change that.
The essential : a “wet” dress rehearsal, i.e. a test in which the rocket is completely filled with fuel, was successfully carried out on Monday.
- What is remarkable in this test is that it was a “full stack”. In other words, the first stage of the rocket, the super heavy booster, and the second, the ship itself, were filled with fuel.
- It was the first time that the rocket, which will be fueled by some 5,000 tons of methalox, a mixture of liquefied methane and oxygen, was fully filled.
- At the same time, a number of other tests will be carried out during a dress rehearsal. SpaceX revealed in a tweet that the full launch countdown procedure was also reviewed. In addition, the company checked the proper functioning of the launch pad.
Orbital test flight in February?
And now : a successful wet dress rehearsal could leave the door ajar for a possible orbital test flight in February or March.
- During the mission, which has already been postponed numerous times as regulators subject SpaceX to rigorous environmental assessments, Starship will circle the Earth once, after which it will touch down in the Pacific Ocean, near ‘Hawaii. It will be the first time a prototype spacecraft has flown into space.
- The Super Heavy Booster will crash into the sea off the coast of Texas. This will be the first time the first stage of the Starship rocket will take flight.
- However, ground tests of the Super Heavy have already been carried out. In November 2022, 14 of the Raptor’s 33 engines were ignited during such a “static fire”. Before the aircraft can take to the air, a test in which all the motors are turned on will have to be carried out shortly.
A rocket to Mars?
Zoom out: The development of the spacecraft is essential for SpaceX, which relies on the rocket for a number of ambitious projects.
- After all, the American space agency NASA chose the Starship as the lunar lander for the Artemis missions. Musk’s rocket is expected to return astronauts to the celestial body in 2025 at the earliest.
- The first private mission around the moon will also be carried out with a Starship. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa booked such a flight for himself and a handful of content creators a few years ago.
- Starship will also be used to launch the next generation of Starlink satellites. Starlink service uses a constellation of satellites to deliver internet to customers around the world.
- Perhaps the most important reason for the development of Starship is Musk’s dream of establishing a colony on Mars. Eventually, the billionaire hopes to make hundreds of flights to the Red Planet and build an autonomous colony of one million people there.