WATCH: SpaceX’s Starship completely new rocket launching tonight, whatever happens, it won’t be boring
Starship represents a significant leap forward in rocket technology, with the potential to revolutionise spaceflight and enable humanity to explore and colonize other planets in the coming decades.
SpaceX is targeting Monday, April 17 at 8:00 a.m. CT (Australian time – April 17 at 11 PM) for the first flight test of a fully integrated Starship and Super Heavy rocket from Starbase in Texas.
Starship is unlike any other vehicle we’ve seen before and is brand new for SpaceX.
The key differentiator for Starship, compared to other rockets from SpaceX, is the propulsion system. Starship uses a unique propulsion system known as the Raptor engine. The Raptor is a full-flow staged combustion engine that uses methane and liquid oxygen as propellants. It is designed to be more efficient and powerful than traditional rocket engines, which use kerosene or liquid hydrogen as fuel.
Starship is designed to be fully reusable which means that it can be flown multiple times without the need for major refurbishment. Tesla made this famous for equipment missions using their Falcon 9 engines, to launch their Starlink satellites to provide internet to the world.
Starship will not only transport cargo, but is also designed to send crews to orbit. In the future, this vehicle is expected to return humanity to the Moon and travel to Mars and beyond.
The Starship has a significantly larger payload capacity than other rockets currently in use. It is designed to be able to carry up to 100 metric tons of cargo or up to 100 people, making it well-suited for missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
Tonight’s mission won’t have humans on board but will be exciting to watch as the success of a test such as this, is measured by the volume of learning achieved. This means even if the worst occurs and the vehicle explodes, it may, as previous failed launches have, provide the necessary data to make improvements and reach the desired outcome in months and years ahead.
Unfortunately SpaceX had to cancel the launch at the last minute, it has now been rescheduled for April 4th (US time).
To date, the SpaceX team has completed multiple sub-orbital flight tests of Starship’s upper stage from Starbase, successfully demonstrating an unprecedented approach to controlled flight. These flight tests helped validate the vehicle’s design, proving Starship can fly through the subsonic phase of entry before re-lighting its engines and flipping itself to a vertical configuration for landing.
In addition to the testing of Starship’s upper stage, the team has conducted numerous tests of the Super Heavy rocket, which include the increasingly complex static fires that led to a full-duration 31 Raptor engine test – the largest number of simultaneous rocket engine ignitions in history.
The team has also constructed the world’s tallest rocket launch and catch tower. At 146 meters, or nearly 500 feet tall, the launch and catch tower is designed to support vehicle integration, launch, and catch of the Super Heavy rocket booster.
For the first flight test, the team will not attempt a vertical landing of Starship or a catch of the Super Heavy booster.
A live webcast of the flight test will begin ~45 minutes before liftoff.
All of this is heavily weather dependent and there is a chance tonight’s launch will be scrubbed (fingers crossed).
There are many space fans covering the event and a popular live stream is already live.
You can watch the big event live on YouTube at the stream below.