SpaceX is preparing to launch its first Starship megarocket into orbit, finally launching CEO Elon Musk’s ambitious plans to build a separate human settlement on Mars.
Musk said that once SpaceX obtains a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration, it is ready to launch Starship from its facility in Boca Chica, Texas (an area the company calls “Starbase”).
However, as with the first launch, a small flaw in the rocket’s intricate hardware or software engineering can go awry.
and interview At the March 7 Morgan Stanley conference, Musk said there was a 1 in 2 chance that the rocket would not reach orbit.
“I’m not saying it’ll get off the ground, but I guarantee you’ll be excited,” he said, adding, “You won’t be bored!”
SpaceX has built several Starship rockets, and the chance of one of them reaching orbit is about 80%, he added. this year.
If the history of Starship’s suborbital test flights tells us anything, it’s that the rocket can explode if it fails to reach orbit.
Starship has exploded before, but its future may be bright
A successful launch would prove to be the world’s first fully reusable orbital rocket, setting the stage for SpaceX to revolutionize the orbital economy.
Both the Starship and its 230-foot-tall booster, Super Heavy, are designed to land on Earth and fly again another day.
This is a big savings because SpaceX doesn’t have to build a new upper stage for each rocket launch. According to SpaceX, the Starship is also designed to carry payloads of up to 250 tons into orbit, and huge payloads of up to 150 tons into space if the rocket is reusable. website.
This increases efficiency and reduces the cost of sending satellites, spacecraft, cargo and people to Earth orbit, the Moon and Mars.
NASA has chosen Starship to land astronauts on the moon for the first time since 1972. NASA aims to achieve its historic moon landing in the mid-2020s.
However, the Starship must first orbit the Earth and return safely. Two years ago, SpaceX completed a series of test flights, launching a Starship prototype six miles above Boca Chica.
The first four exploded and only one landed before detonating.
Finally, the fifth Starship prototype roared at an altitude of 33,000 feet, cut its engines, plummeted toward Earth, and re-ignited just in time to lift it upright and slowly descend onto its landing pad. I was.
No Starship has flown since. The first attempt to get going will be the biggest test yet.