Inside SpaceX's Preparations for the Next Starship Launch

Elon Musk's SpaceX is gearing up for another Starship launch. Discover what's in store, from pre-launch preparations to Starship's key role in future space exploration.

Inside SpaceX's Preparations for the Next Starship Launch

Thursday June 15, 2023,

3 min Read

Elon Musk's SpaceX is gearing up for the next milestone in its space exploration journey: the imminent launch of the Starship spacecraft. According to Musk's social media update on June 13, 2023, this event could transpire in the span of 6 to 8 weeks. However, this schedule might be subject to change considering the intricate preparation required for the second flight and potential regulatory challenges.

The forthcoming launch comes after Starship's initial test flight on April 20, 2023, which encountered several hurdles, leading to an early termination of the flight. Despite these setbacks, SpaceX remains undeterred, demonstrating the company's steadfast determination to push the boundaries of space travel.

The Starship, standing tall at 120 meters (394 feet), marks a new era in space vehicles. This behemoth surpasses NASA's Space Launch System, Saturn V, and the Soviet N1, making it the most formidable rocket ever flown. Comprising two stages, the first-stage Super Heavy booster and the second-stage Starship spacecraft, it utilizes Raptor rocket engines that employ liquid oxygen and liquid methane as propellants.

One of the revolutionary aspects of the Starship is its designed reusability. Both stages are engineered to land back on the launch tower's arms and be ready for another flight within hours. Moreover, in its fully reusable configuration, the Starship can carry up to 150 tonnes (330,000 lb) to low Earth orbit, or up to 250 t (550,000 lb) when expended.

Interestingly, NASA has chosen the Starship as the first manned lander for its Artemis moon mission, with the potential of transporting astronauts to the moon as early as 2025 if current timelines are met. SpaceX also envisions the Starship to replace its current fleet, including the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and the Dragon 2 spacecraft, which is currently part of NASA's commercial crew program to the International Space Station. The Starship's mission agenda includes the expansion of SpaceX's Starlink internet constellation, crewed missions under the Polaris and dearMoon programs, and two lunar landings under the Artemis program.

Since its initial announcement in 2012, the Starship project has evolved significantly, driven by SpaceX's ambition to expand human presence beyond Earth. The journey began with the idea of a rocket that surpassed the capabilities of the then-existing Falcon 9, and this vision has been refined through various design modifications and intensive testing. The first prototype, the Starhopper, underwent several static fires and low-altitude flights, followed by flight tests of seven upper-stage Starship prototypes between August 2020 and May 2021.

As SpaceX gets ready for the upcoming Starship launch, it's evident that the company is firing more than just a spacecraft into space – it's propelling a vision of a future where space exploration and interplanetary travel become integral to the story of humankind.