SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk will share details about Starship’s development progress next week during the first update presentation since September 2019. It will take place on February 10 - “Thursday next week at 8pm Texas time,” he announced via Twitter on February 3rd. The rocket-ship is under development at Boca Chica Beach, Texas, where the company established its Starbase rocket factory and launch site. Starship is a two-stage launch vehicle consisting of a spacecraft and enormous Super Heavy rocket that propels it to orbit. The company aims to perform the first orbital Starship flight test this year, after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completes an environmental assessment of the Boca Chica launch site. The FAA expects to complete the review by February 28. It will be the first time SpaceX tests the complete launch system and launch tower.
The launch tower is equipped with giant robotic arms designed to stack the 160-foot-tall Starship atop the 230-foot-tall Super Heavy rocket. SpaceX has only stacked Starship atop Super Heavy once, Musk said it was a "dream come true" to see the vehicle he envisioned in its full form in August 2021. The vehicle was stacked with giant cranes and not the "Mechazilla" launch tower. We will soon see the robotic arms in action for the first time when it stacks the vehicle before the presentation. Musk said Starship will be fully-stacked when SpaceX livestreams his update from Boca Chica Village. In 2019 Musk gave his presentation on a stage standing in front of a beautiful Starship prototype called ‘MK1’ – the first make of the spacecraft.
Thursday next week at 8pm Texas time— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 3, 2022
Chief Engineer Elon Musk has provided periodic updates of SpaceX’s goal to make life multi-planetary since 2016. He envisions manufacturing a reusable interplanetary transport system to enable hundreds of humans to build the first city on Mars. Throughout the years, Musk gave the launch system different names and presented different design iterations until he officially unveiled a real-life prototype of Starship in South Texas during the company’s last 2019 update presentation. Since, SpaceX engineers have manufactured and launched multiple stainless-steel prototypes of Starship. Every test launch provided engineers with insight to improve the vehicle and allowed Musk to enhance the vehicles’ design. SpaceX demonstrated its engineering talent when it launched and landed the methane-fueled Starship with precision in May last year. NASA even awarded SpaceX a contract to develop a lunar-optimized Starship Human Landing System (HLS) to land astronauts on the Moon by 2025 as part of the Artemis program.
SpaceX is expected to significantly advance the spacecraft's development this year to meet the agency’s goal of returning America to the lunar surface. The company has never launched a methane-fueled rocket as powerful as Super Heavy, which is set to become the world’s most powerful launch vehicle. It will be interesting to learn how much the Starship’s design and technical systems have changed since last update and what is the next phase of the launch system’s development. We will also likely find out SpaceX’s official flight profile for the upcoming orbital flight test. According to an FAA filing SpaceX submitted last year, Starship could propel to orbit from South Texas and land off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. We will soon find out SpaceX’s exact plans for this ambitious launch! The company has not released any additional information about the upcoming presentation, TESMANIAN will provide updates as new details become available.
Exciting progress at Starbase, Texas!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 2, 2022
Starship SN20 Super Heavy Booster 4 / Featured Image Source: SpaceX