SpaceX Test launches its Starship rocket: how to watch

SpaceX Test launches its Starship rocket: how to watch

SpaceX Test launches its Starship rocket: how to watch

Elon Musk’s silver vision to send humans to the moon and Mars stands next to a 480ft launch tower in the south corner of Texas. It’s a new SpaceX rocket called Starship that’s more powerful than any vehicle that’s ever traveled in space.

Starting Monday morning, SpaceX will attempt to launch the Starship prototype into space for the first time. Here’s what you need to know about the flight.

The spacecraft and the Super Heavy booster that will carry it into orbit are scheduled to be loaded with thrusters early Monday morning at a SpaceX test site in Texas, just outside the town of Brownsville. The launch site, which SpaceX calls Starbase, is near the Gulf of Mexico.

SpaceX has scheduled the flight as early as 8 a.m. Eastern Time, and it could launch anytime between that time and 10:30 a.m. The company said it would start a live stream on its YouTube channel 45 minutes before the rocket is ready to lift off.

If issues arise and SpaceX is unable to launch on Monday, it will continue to try throughout the week. As the launch site appeared hazy on Sunday afternoon, SpaceX said the weather was forecast to be “pretty good for tomorrow morning but we are monitoring the wind shear”.

It’s the tallest rocket ever built – 394 feet tall, nearly 90 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty, including the pedestal.

And it has the most engines ever in a rocket booster: The Super Heavy, the bottom section that will propel the top Starship vehicle into orbit, has 33 of SpaceX’s powerful Raptor engines sticking out from its bottom. They are capable of generating 16 million pounds of thrust at full throttle, far more than the Saturn V that carried Apollo astronauts to the moon.

Starship is designed to be fully reusable. The Super Heavy booster should land much like those on SpaceX’s smaller Falcon 9 rockets, and Starship will be able to return from space through the atmosphere like a parachutist before rotating to an upright position to land.

SpaceX’s current Falcon 9 rocket is the most-launched rocket in the world. It has been launched into space 24 times in 2023, most recently on Friday evening.

Starship is the next step. It would be able to carry a lot more cargo and a lot more people than Falcon 9. And because it’s fully reusable, Starship could dramatically reduce the cost of launching payloads into orbit.

NASA is paying SpaceX to build a version of the vehicle to ferry astronauts from lunar orbit to the moon’s surface for the Artemis III and IV missions later in the decade. The spacecraft is also central to Mr Musk’s vision to send people to Mars.

For Monday’s test flight, Starship will make a partial circumnavigation of the Earth, departing from Texas and crashing in the waters off Hawaii.

Eventually, SpaceX hopes to land both the Super Heavy booster and the Starship orbital vehicle regularly to reuse them for future launches. But the spacecraft for Monday’s flight will crash into the ocean and sink. They are designed as an initial test of the vehicles, and the data will allow engineers to fix what’s wrong and make improvements.

About eight minutes after Monday’s launch, the Super Heavy booster will crash into the Gulf of Mexico. The Starship vehicle will fly higher in space, reaching an altitude of around 150 miles and traveling around the Earth before re-entering the atmosphere. If it survives its reentry, about 90 minutes after launch, it will plunge into the Pacific Ocean about 62 miles north of the island of Kauai.


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