For more than two years, Elon Musk has contradicted himself on the timetable for his Starship spacecraft. Grounded by an FAA investigation, the aircraft is expected to take off for the first time in 18 months in the coming weeks.
This time there is no question of stagnating at an altitude of 10 kilometers as during the 2020 test flights. SpaceX wants to bring its Starship into space and reach orbit. To push this 1200 ton vessel, the company uses a first stage ” super-heavy » composed of 33 engines.
With such power, the Starship should easily slip out of Earth’s gravity. Elon Musk hopes he’ll get his company to Mars one day. But before heading to the red planet, he already has a very busy schedule.
A busy schedule
From January 20, a static shot should take place to test the proper functioning of the engines. In February, the spacecraft’s first orbital flight should confirm the alloy between the two stages of the rocket. This mission, crucial for the future of SpaceX, will be followed with attention on the side of Houston.
At the NASA control center, the executives of the American space agency are growing impatient. Everyone wants to see the SpaceX device soar through the air. It has spent more than 5 billion dollars to finance the creation of such a machine, a failure of SpaceX would be a real setback for the two entities.
Starship: Moon objective
NASA has also selected Starship as the lander system for the Artemis 3 and 4 missions due to take place in 2025 and 2026. If the February flight is a failure, the entire US lunar program schedule will have to be reviewed. .
While China is pushing, which intends to go to our satellite in 2030, NASA does not want to be overtaken in the home stretch by its Asian rival. As during the first space race, it is here a question of the prestige and the greatness of an entire country.
The February flight is therefore crucial for SpaceX, NASA and America as a whole. If successful, the Super Heavy and Starship model will start a new page in space history. With 33 engines at its base, Booster 7 “Super Heavy” and one of the most powerful first stages in the world.
The most powerful rocket in the world
It also has the particularity of operating with a mixture of liquid oxygen and methane. The latter replaces the hydrogen usually used as propellant in SpaceX flights.
On paper, it offers better performance capabilities. This fuel theoretically makes it possible to reach 72,000 kN of thrust. By comparison, NASA’s SLS rocket that headed for the Moon is just over 30,000 kN.