SpaceX Starship Super Heavy rocket testing could initiate in 'A few months,' says Elon Musk

by Evelyn Arevalo December 24, 2020

SpaceX Starship Super Heavy rocket testing could initiate in 'A few months,' says Elon Musk

Featured Image Source: Illustration by Erc X @ErcXspace via Twitter

SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk to enable life on Mars. “The future of humanity is going to bifurcate in two directions: Either it’s going to become multi-planetary, or it’s going to remain confined to one planet and eventually there’s going to be an extinction event,” he says. Colonizing Mars will completely change the course of humanity’s future. To make this ambitious mission a reality, SpaceX is working to develop of a spacecraft-rocket duo called Starship. It will be capable of transporting 100 passengers and tons of cargo through deep space. The Starship spacecraft will require a massive rocket booster called Super Heavy. The 240-feet-tall rocket will propel the spacecraft to orbit powered by 28 Raptor engines. The Raptor is a full-flow staged combustion engine designed by SpaceX, fueled by sub-cooled liquid methane (CH4) and liquid oxygen (LOX) propellants. Starship will feature 6 Raptors, 3 optimized for the vacuum of space and 3 sea-level Raptors for propulsion inside a planet.

The first prototypes of Starship and Super Heavy are under development at the SpaceX South Texas Launch Facility where the company has already launched three Starship prototypes this year. During the latest test flight in South Texas, engineers launched the Starship SN8 prototype approximately 12-kilometers powered by a trio of Raptor engines. Starship SN8 performed the “first-of-its-kind controlled aerodynamic descent and landing flip maneuver. Together these will enable landing where no runways exist, including the Moon, Mars, and beyond,” the company states (video below).

 

 

SpaceX aims to send the first launch Starship spacecraft to orbit next year. The flight test will require the use of Super Heavy. Super Heavy rocket testing will initiate in the new year. Musk said the first tests of the gigantic Super Heavy booster will take place in “A few months,” he wrote via Twitter on December 24. Teams already started to manufacture the first Super Heavy booster prototype.

 

 

Super Heavy will be reusable like the company’s Falcon 9 rocket, it will propel Starship to orbit then perform controlled landings in order to be reused. In June, Musk shared that he plans to build floating spaceports at sea – “SpaceX is building floating, Super Heavy-class spaceports for Mars, moon & hypersonic travel around Earth,” he said. The first ocean spaceport will be located at Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville, Texas, in the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Engineers aim to create a stainless-steel Starship/Super Heavy vehicle capable of being as reusable as an airplane, with a lifespan of around 20 to 30 years like the commercial aircraft we use today. Reusability is key, to significantly reduce the cost of spaceflight. Besides using Starship to transport astronauts to the Moon and Mars, Musk also aspires to create a future where Starship can transport passengers to point-to-point destinations on Earth at hypersonic speeds (video below). Imagine arriving to any city across the planet in under an hour! This Earth-to-Earth version of Starship would have the capability to transport 1,000 people strapped in seats. It would blast off a spaceport at sea, fly up 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) high through the atmosphere into the exosphere, where air resistance is minimal, circling the globe in a matter of minutes – traveling at Mach 25, which is equivalent to 30,870 kilometers (19,182 miles) per hour. That’s Fast!

These hypersonic flights will be noisy, so, launching Super Heavy-Starship from a spaceport at sea far away from cities will be the best option to conduct frequent trips. Musk shared these Starship Earth-to-Earth flights will be tested in a couple of years – “There will be many test flights before commercial passengers are carried. First Earth to Earth test flights might be in 2 or 3 years,” he said earlier this year. The President of SpaceX Gwynne Shotwell said in 2019, she expects a ticket to fly aboard Starship to an Earth-to-Earth destination will cost a little more than an economy class flight but cheaper than a first-class ticket.

 

Featured Image Source: Illustration by Erc X @ErcXspace via Twitter





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