Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starship successfully took off as the countdown clock struck zero despite the Super Heavy booster’s explosion after attempting to light up its 33 engines, roaring to life and sending a deafening boom across the launch site.
Elon Musk aims to use SpaceX’s Starship, the biggest rocket ever constructed, to colonise Mars one day. NASA is waiting for a modified version of Starship to put people on the moon. SpaceX is set to fly Starship for its second test launch on Saturday.
It follows a failed effort to launch the spacecraft in its fully-stacked configuration in April that resulted in a magnificent explosion over the Gulf of Mexico.
Though time is running out for a modified Starship to be ready for a scheduled lunar visit in 2025, SpaceX has claimed that explosions during the early stages of rocket development are desirable and can inform design choices faster than ground testing.
With a 20-minute launch window, the company’s Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, will launch at 7:00am local time (1300 GMT).
The rocket surpasses the Statue of Liberty by a comfortable ninety feet when the two stages of Starship are combined to reach a height of 397 feet (121 metres).
Its Super Heavy booster produces 16.7 million pounds (74.3 Meganewtons) of thrust, almost double that of the world’s second most powerful rocket, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) – though the latter is now fully operational.
Both systems are designed to be fully reusable, a key element of SpaceX’s design meant to greatly reduce costs.
If the flight is successful, the booster will land in the Gulf of Mexico a few minutes after launch, while the upper stage will complete a partial trip around the Earth, almost obtaining orbital velocity, before belly-flopping into the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii after 90 minutes.
Four minutes after launch on April 20, SpaceX had to blow up Starship after the two stages failed to split. This was the first test flight gone wrong.
The rocket burst into a ball of fire and fell into the Gulf of Mexico, covering a hamlet several miles (kilometres) away with a cloud of dust.
The Federal Aviation Administration ultimately gave SpaceX permission to attempt again on Wednesday after a months-long review. However, this was not without opposition from environmental organisations, who are suing the agency on the grounds that it did not follow environmental legislation.
The way the spaceship detaches from the rocket has changed the most since the initial launch.
The Starship has been altered to employ “hot staging,” a technique that is frequently employed by Russian rockets and has the potential to unleash significantly more force. This means that the upper-stage engines will fire while they are still linked to the booster.
Improvements to vents to lessen the chance of an explosion are among the other modifications.
The company’s launchpad at Starbase was severely damaged in the first launch as well. To counteract the tremendous heat and force produced by launch, high-strength concrete and a water-jetting system have been added to the launchpad.