SpaceX continues to gear up for the third test flight of its giant Starship rocket and the private spaceflight company has some amazing photos to prove it.
The company rolled the two stages of its latest Starship rocket to the launch pad at Starbase, its site on South Texas' Gulf Coast, over the weekend.
SpaceX then stacked the two elements — the huge Super Heavy booster and the 165-foot-tall (50 meters) Starship upper stage — atop Starbase's orbital launch mount on Saturday night (Feb. 10), as NASASpaceflight.com noted.
Such work is part of the prep for Starship's third test flight, which SpaceX aims to launch in the coming weeks, provided a license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) comes through in time.
It's unclear when SpaceX will get that license, however. The FAA is still investigating what happened on Starship's second flight, which lifted off from Starbase last November. Starship flew well on that mission, notching milestones such as a nominal Super Heavy engine burn and successful stage separation. But both Starship and Super Heavy ended up exploding, and the flight ended just eight minutes after launch.
The first Starship flight, which launched last April, ended with the destruction of a tumbling Starship four minutes after liftoff. That vehicle experienced some problems with its first-stage burn, and its two stages failed to separate as planned.
Starship is designed to be fully and rapidly reusable, and it will be capable of delivering up to 150 tons of payload to low Earth orbit. SpaceX is developing the vehicle to expand humanity's footprint out into the solar system — especially to the fourth rock from the sun.
"We are mapping out a game plan to get a million people to Mars. Civilization only passes the single-planet Great Filter when Mars can survive even if Earth supply ships stop coming," SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said in an X post on Saturday.
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Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.
Love or hate Elon Musk, I feel he has contributed more to advance human spaceflight than anyone else this century.Reply
Yes I feel the same way. If only he didn't have that attitude of que sera sera about everything he's into. (Twitter, self-driving cars, his massive Tesla paycheck, etc.)Reply
Because he is very smart but also finds the smartest and best people to work for him. Tesla paycheck, that money isn't for him to buy a huge boat or something, he wants it to boost other things he has going. Brain chips for one. If we really want to go to mars, we need things like that. We also need to start working on DNA and changes to the people that are going to go there. Higher radiation resistance, bodies that can deal with low gravity for more than a few months. I suspect he will be pushing to start that soon. SpaceX, lowered launch costs by 90% by doing something that everyone said was impossible when he started working on it. Last year almost 100 launches flawless with boosters almost reaching the 20-use level. What needs to happen is all the super intelligent people who told him that it couldn't be done need to step aside and let him get the Starship up and running. FAA, NASA, Environmentalists need to shut up and go away. He and the people that work for him know how to make it happen so we can get back to the moon before the Chinese.skynr13 said:Yes I feel the same way. If only he didn't have that attitude of que sera sera about everything he's into. (Twitter, self-driving cars, his massive Tesla paycheck, etc.)