SpaceX completes rehearsal with Starship before its first launch

Elon Musk is one step closer to Mars after the Starship spacecraft designed to go to the Red Planet achieved a major achievement before it was launched for the first time.

The 395-foot rocket and companion vehicle were fully fueled and stacked for the first time ever Monday, as SpaceX completed a “wet dress rehearsal” for the vehicle at its Starbase facility in south Texas.

It’s not clear when exactly it will take off for the first time, but Musk teased that it will be “soon” and this test is certainly a step in the right direction.

The billionaire has a reputation for being overly ambitious when it comes to goals, however, and Starship has faced months of delays in getting ready to launch for the first time.

Getting ready for takeoff: Elon Musk is a step closer to Mars after his spacecraft (pictured) designed to go to the Red Planet hit a milestone before it launched for the first time

Starship: Key Facts

First launch: February 2023?

What will it be used for? Partly a lander for NASA’s lunar missions but also to transport humans to Mars.

Height: 395 ft (120 m)

Weight: 11 million pounds (5 million kg)

to push: 16 million pounds (70 meganewtons)

Can it be reused? yes

Maximum Payload to Low Earth Orbit: 220,000 – 330,000 pounds (100-150 tons)

Lunar orbit maximum payload: 220,000 pounds (100 tons)

Solid fuel: Unavailable

liquid fuel: oxygen and methane

Motors: Powered by about 32 Raptor engines

crew unit: Starship (eventually capable of carrying up to 100 passengers)

Construction cost: $216m (£189m)

Launch price: Ultimately, about $2 million (1.7 million), according to Musk

Where will you start? The Starbase facility will likely be near Boca Chica, Texas. But it is possible to launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.

Total launches: 0

Starship completed its first full flight-like wet dress rehearsal at Starbase today. It was the first time an integrated ship and Booster had been fully loaded with more than 10 million pounds of propellant, SpaceX tweeted, sharing footage from the wet clothes rehearsal.

Today’s test will help verify the full launch countdown sequence, as well as the spacecraft and orbital plate’s performance of flight-like operations.

The rehearsal includes many of the actions SpaceX engineers will perform on launch day, such as pumping Liquid oxygen and liquid methane fuels in the very heavy first stage and upper stage of the spacecraft.

Its success keeps Starship on track for an orbital test flight within the next few months.

In fact, Musk said the mission — which will send the vehicle around the Earth once, with a targeted landing in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii — could happen as early as February.

This launch will mark an early milestone in his Starship ambition to carry people and cargo to the Moon and Mars.

SpaceX plans to take humans into space using a two-stage spacecraft consisting of a Starship (the passenger-carrying section) and a Super Heavy rocket launcher.

Together, the couple measures a whopping 395 feet (120 meters) tall and weighs 11 million pounds (5 million kg).

Starship is capable of generating 16 million pounds (70 meganewtons) of thrust, making it one of the most powerful rockets in the world.

The company has been testing prototypes of the $216m (£189m) Starship, formerly known as the ‘BFR’, by launching and landing them in the air.

These launches have had varying degrees of success, with some exploding in a chaotic ball of flame and others returning unharmed.

A full-scale orbital test flight of this current vehicle — which consists of a super-heavy prototype called Booster 7 and the upper-stage variant of the Ship 24 — has yet to take place, despite Musk saying a year ago that it would likely happen in 2022.

Now, the billionaire insists, the launch attempt could happen in the next few months, most likely in February or March.

On January 8 he wrote on Twitter: “We have a real shot in late February. A launch attempt in March seems very likely.

The 395-foot-high rocket and companion vehicle were fully fueled and stacked for the first time ever on Monday, as SpaceX completed its launch.

The 395-foot rocket and companion vehicle were fully fueled and stacked for the first time ever Monday, as SpaceX completed a “wet dress rehearsal” for the vehicle at its Starbase facility in south Texas.

SpaceX plans to take humans into space using a two-stage spacecraft consisting of the Starship (the passenger-carrying section) and the Super Heavy rocket booster.

SpaceX plans to take humans into space using a two-stage spacecraft consisting of the Starship (the passenger-carrying section) and the Super Heavy rocket booster.

Aerial photos of the Starship fully stacked on the orbital launch pad were shared earlier this month

Aerial photos of the Starship fully stacked on the orbital launch pad were shared earlier this month

SpaceX still needs to tick a few important boxes to make that happen, including destacking the spacecraft to test fire all 33 of Booster 7’s Raptor engines at the same time.

So far I’ve only done it with 14 boosted Raptors.

The company had originally planned to launch the Starship into orbit in January 2022, but had to delay the mission after an environmental assessment of the Boca Chica site.

Once a successful orbital flight is in the bag, SpaceX will focus on launching valuable satellites and other payloads to orbit the rocket.

The company doesn’t just plan to have a single Starship — Musk has previously said his company has built “a factory to make a lot of these vehicles.”

Ultimately, he wants to make human life “polyplanetary”—living on several planets—which would require about a thousand spacecraft.

The billionaire believes that a natural or man-made disaster will eventually spell the end of civilization, necessitating a move to another planet, with Mars being the “only realistic option”.

This could be a pandemic worse than Covid, bringing ever-lower birth rates, nuclear Armageddon, or perhaps a direct hit by a deadly comet that ‘wipes out a continent’.

The goal: Musk said the mission — which will send the vehicle around the Earth once, with a targeted landing in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii — could happen as early as February.

The goal: Musk said the mission — which will send the vehicle around the Earth once, with a targeted landing in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii — could happen as early as February.

Earlier this month, he posted a photo of the Starship to his Twitter account with the caption: 'Trying to launch Starship soon'

Earlier this month, he posted a photo of the Starship to his Twitter account with the caption: ‘Trying to launch Starship soon’

Delayed: A full-scale orbital test flight of the rocket hasn't taken place yet, though Musk said a year ago it would likely happen in 2022.

Delayed: A full-scale orbital test flight of the rocket hasn’t taken place yet, though Musk said a year ago it would likely happen in 2022.

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa also booked a Starship flight for himself and a group of artists and influencers, while NASA partners with SpaceX to go to the moon.

It has contracted with the company to use the Starship to deliver astronauts to the lunar surface as early as 2025, as part of the Artemis program (the successor to the Apollo program in the 1960s and 1970s).

The Artemis missions aim to return humans to the moon “no later than 2025”.

Artemis I, which sent an unmanned spacecraft around the moon and back to Earth, was successfully implemented at the end of last year.

This will be followed With a human flight around the moon in 2024 as part of Artemis II, before the US space agency aims to land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface on Artemis III in 2025.

NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the moon in 2025 as part of the Artemis mission

Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and the moon goddess in Greek mythology.

Chosen by NASA to exemplify its way back to the moon, which will see astronauts return to the lunar surface by 2025 — including the first woman and the next man.

Artemis 1, formerly known as Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration of the Moon and Mars.

Artemis 1 will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s Deep Space Exploration System: Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) and ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Artemis 1 will be an uncrewed flight that will provide a foundation for human exploration of deep space, and demonstrate our commitment and ability to expand human presence to the Moon and beyond.

During this journey, the spacecraft will launch on the world’s most powerful rocket and fly farther than any spacecraft ever built for humans.

It will travel 280,000 miles (450,600 kilometers) from Earth, and thousands of miles beyond the moon, over the course of a three-week mission.

Artemis 1, formerly known as Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration of the Moon and Mars.  This diagram shows the different stages of a task

Artemis 1, formerly known as Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration of the Moon and Mars. This diagram shows the different stages of a task

Orion will stay in space longer than any astronaut ship has ever done without docking with a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before.

With this first exploration mission, NASA is leading the next steps for human exploration in deep space as astronauts will build and begin testing systems near the moon needed for lunar surface missions and exploration to other destinations far from Earth, including Mars.

It will take the crew down a different path and test critical Orion systems with humans on board.

Together, Orion, SLS and Kennedy’s ground systems will be able to meet the most challenging crew and cargo needs in deep space.

Ultimately, NASA seeks to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2028 as a result of the Artemis mission.

The space agency hopes that this colony will reveal new scientific discoveries, showcase new technological developments, and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy.

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