Elon Musk-led Space X is ready to conduct the first major test of its Starship rocket next week and set a new record
SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by billionaire Elon Musk, is set to launch the Starship prototype 15 kilometers above the Earth in a test flight.
- This is higher than any other SpaceX prototypes that have dared to fly so far.
- The success of the mission, however slim, will not only be a new record for the company but will also put it one step closer to carrying humans into orbit, to the Moon and even Mars.
AdvertisementBillionaire Elon Musk’s space company is ready to hit a new milestone, planning the first major test of its new
Good Starship SN8 static fire! Aiming for first 15km / ~50k ft altitude flight next week. Goals are to test 3 engin… https://t.co/7OjorqNhb6— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 1606262367000
In the past, prototypes have at most flown a couple of hundred meters into the air before making a return landing. Starship’s target to reach 15 kilometres feet is around 4.6 kilometers higher than the height at which passengers planes fly.
If successful, this will set a new record for Musk and SpaceX.
A ship to carry people to Mars
Just like SpaceX’s reliable Falcon 9 launch vehicles, the Starship has also been equipped with technology to allow the rocket to return to Earth and land upright.
The prototype had a close earlier this month, on November 13, when its latest static fire test did not go as planned. A static fire test is when the rocket is fueled as though it was actually to launch and the engines are then fired up for a few seconds to see if everything is working as it should be.
“We lost vehicle pneumatics. Reasons are unknown at present. Liquid oxygen header tank pressure is rising. Hopefully it triggers a burst disk to relieve pressure, otherwise it’s going to pop the cork,” Musk said on Twitter.
Given the risky nature of the task, Musk is aware that next week’s mission might not be a success.
@austinbarnard45 Sure, although it might be quite a short livestream! Lot can go wrong, but we’ll provide video, wa… https://t.co/JmOJn9HhxS— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 1604264238000
The importance of the Starship test
Passing next week’s test will put the Starship spacecraft and its Super Heavy rocket one step closer to carrying as many as 100 people into Earth’s orbit, to the Moon, Mars, or even beyond.
The Super Heavy rocket put the Starship in space; the spacecraft will use the six Raptor engines equipped with to travel between destinations.
According to Musk, if all testing goes according to plan, the first uncrewed Starship mission to Mars could take place by 2024.
Once it’s fully built and tested, the Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket will be a fully reusable space transportation system capable of carrying as many as 100 people and cargo to Earth orbit, the moon, Mars, and possibly beyond. Once in space, Starship will use its six Raptor engines for travel between different destinations.
Next week’s test launch will also be the closest representation of the final rocket till date. Until now, most prototypes have been without body flaps or a nose cone, making it impossible to determine what the final product will look like. The Starship, however, will be incorporating both nose cones and body flaps in its test.
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