SpaceX aims to have a space-ready Starship in less than three years. Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa booked the first trip around the Moon aboard Starship, scheduled for 2023. SpaceX founder Elon Musk says Maezawa is helping fund the spacecraft’s development. The first crewed Starship voyage will be an art project called ‘Dear Moon’ in which Maezawa will select artists from around the world to join him on his space adventure. He is inviting the general public to register for an art contest to win a seat aboard the Dear Moon Starship mission. “It will be 10 to 12 people in all, but I will be inviting 8 people to come along on the ride,” Maezawa stated. For a chance to go on a trip around the Moon aboard Starship you can pre-register via dearmoon.earth. Maezawa says anyone who meets two criteria could win a seat – those who “can push its envelope to help other people and greater society in some way” and are “willing to support other crew members who share similar aspirations.”
Until then, SpaceX is working towards developing the spacecraft. The company has launched six Starship prototypes at the SpaceX South Texas Launch Facility since 2019. SpaceX landed the first fully-assembled launch vehicle during the most recent launch on March 3rd. Musk celebrated with fireworks at the rocket factory this past week. The company aims to launch the first Starship to orbit before this year ends. “I’m highly confident that we will have reached orbit many times with Starship before 2023. And that it will be safe enough for human transport by 2023. It’s looking very promising,” Musk said.
SpaceX Celebrates Accomplishments With Fireworks At The South Texas Starship Facilityhttps://t.co/UPCStWKRc1— Tesmanian.com (@Tesmanian_com) March 11, 2021
The next Starship test vehicle will soon perform a high-altitude flight test at Boca Chica Beach. On Monday, March 8, SpaceX rolled out Starship Serial Number 11 (SN11) from the assembly site to the launch pad to perform preflight preparations. By Tuesday, March 9, the Starship SN11 vehicle underwent a proof test. During a cryogenic pressurization test the stainless-steel vehicle was filled with liquid nitrogen to simulate the stress/pressure the vehicle will experience with cryogenic propellants in-flight. Musk previously said Starship needs to withstand a pressure of around 6 bar to 8.5 bar; ~6 bar is needed for orbital flights and ~8.5 bar is the strength that would be safe to carry out crewed flights. Boca Chica resident who reports for NASASpaceflight, recorded cool video of SN11's frosty proof test, shown below.
The next preflight test is expected to be a static-fire test in which Starship SN11’s three Raptor engines will be fueled with cryogenic propellants, liquid methane and liquid oxygen. The engines will be briefly ignited to asses their performance. If the engine ignition test goes smoothly, SpaceX could potentially launch SN11 as soon as next week, according to Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) posted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA TFR notice says a launch could take place no earlier than Tuesday, March 16. However, a launch could only take place next week if preflight preparations go well (all dates are subject to change). You can watch SpaceX operations Live 24/7 in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.