July 13, 2024

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX is preparing to launch the giant Starship rocket system

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is preparing to launch the giant Starship rocket system
  • By Jonathan Amos
  • BBC Science Correspondent
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Starship on the Texas coast in the Gulf of Mexico

The most powerful rocket ever developed is about to be attempted for the first time.

The vehicle, known as the Starship, was built by SpaceX for American entrepreneur Elon Musk.

It is about 120 meters (400 ft) tall and designed to have twice the thrust of any missile in history.

Monday’s uncrowded protest will start from Boca Chica, Texas. The goal is to send the top of the car eastward, approximately completing one circle of the globe.

Mr. Musk implored everyone to moderate their expectations. It is not uncommon for a rocket to experience some sort of failure on its initial takeoff.

“It’s the first launch of a giant rocket that’s very complex, so it may not launch. We’ll be very careful, and if we see anything that concerns us, we’ll postpone the launch,” he said in remarks to Twitter Spaces. It happened.

“If we launch, I would consider anything that doesn’t destroy the launch pad itself a victory.”

Thousands of spectators are expected to try to reach coastal locations on the Gulf of Mexico to watch the event.

Elon Musk hopes to completely upend the rocket business with Starship.

It is designed to be completely and quickly reusable. He envisions flying people and satellites circling several times a day in the same way a jetliner might cross the Atlantic Ocean.

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The booster was suspended on the ground when its engines ignited to perform a “steady fire” test.

The upper part of the Starship has been previously tested in short stages, but this will be the first time that it has been ascended with its lower stage.

Simply called Super Heavy, this giant booster was launched while being installed at the launch pad in February. However, the engines were throttled on that occasion to half their capacity.

If, as promised, SpaceX progresses at 90% on Monday, the stage should deliver something close to 70 meganewtons. This is equivalent to the force needed to propel nearly 100 supersonic Concorde jets at takeoff.

Assuming all went as planned, the Starship would rise and plod downward across the bay, where the 33 engines on the bottom of the methane-fueled engine would burn for 2 minutes and 49 seconds.

At this point, the two halves of the rocket will separate, and the upper section, the ship, will power its own engines for another six minutes and 23 seconds.

By this time, you should fly over the Caribbean and sail through space at an altitude of more than 100 km above the surface of the planet.

SpaceX wants the Super Heavy booster to attempt a flyby again near the Texas coast and descend vertically, hovering just above the waters of the Gulf. And then he would allow her to capsize and sink.

In the long term, SpaceX expects both the booster and the ship to make controlled landings so they can refuel and relaunch.

The company in Boca Chica experimented with different approaches to building steel vehicles.

There are different models waiting their turn to fly.

The US space agency, NASA, will be among the most interested spectators on Monday.

It’s giving SpaceX nearly $3 billion to develop a different type of spacecraft planned to land astronauts on the moon.

Musk has the ambition to go deeper into the solar system, says Jarrett Reisman, a professor of astronautical engineering at the University of Southern California.

“He sees Starship as a potential giant paradigm shift, a massive increase in capability – the ability to bring people on a large scale to Mars,” the SpaceX consultant and former astronaut told BBC News.

“There are a lot of potential benefits, but there are also a lot of potential risks because this is so difficult. No one has built a rocket anywhere near that big — twice the size of the next closest thing.”

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Mr. Musk has an ambition to colonize Mars using the Starship