- Elon Musk, on X, said SpaceX is “ready to launch” its massive Starship rocket again, pending approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
- The rocket exploded on its first test flight into orbit in April as it blasted through the launch pad.
- The release was so powerful that it splattered soil and sand that flooded a town more than 5 miles away.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Wednesday that SpaceX’s Starship rocket is fully stacked and ready to launch again. He’s just waiting for the FAA to approve the company’s launch license.
Starship is SpaceX’s next major rocket, standing taller and more powerful than any previous launch system. Stacked atop its super heavy booster, the Starship is about 400 feet high.
Musk aims to use this launch system as a backbone for sending people and cargo to Mars, realizing his dream of building the first settlement there.
The Starship and its very heavy booster were launched together for the first time in April. But nearly three minutes into launch, miles above Earth, the spacecraft failed to separate from the booster, a critical step for reaching orbital altitude.
The spacecraft, weighed down by its booster, began its descent back to Earth. Video footage shows the rocket destroying itself mid-flight for safety reasons, and it never made it to space.
It was later determined that the spacecraft had also punched a hole in the launch pad, spraying dirt, bits of concrete and other debris onto nearby areas.
Some of the debris has reportedly reached Port Isabel, a town about five miles from the SpaceX launch pad in Boca Chica, Texas.
The Federal Aviation Administration has asked SpaceX to investigate the error the spacecraft made mid-flight
After a failed launch attempt in April, the FAA asked SpaceX to file an accident investigation report, a common procedure after a flight failure.
SpaceX submitted the final report on August 15th per PayloadBut the FAA says the investigation remains open.
“The FAA will not authorize another Starship launch until SpaceX implements corrective actions identified during the accident investigation,” the FAA told Insider via email, adding that SpaceX would also have to comply with all other regulatory requirements for a launch authorization modification. own.
Since the last launch, SpaceX has made more than 1,000 modifications to improve its rocket design before its next test flight, Musk told journalist Ashley Vance in an interview. discussion about X On June 24 per Space.com.
One such change can be seen in the newly released image of the missile: a vent and heat shield has been placed between the missile and the booster.
After the rocket was unable to separate from its booster in April, SpaceX moved to a process called “hot staging,” in which the Starship rocket’s engines are ignited to propel the ship away from its super-heavy booster before turning off the booster, according to Space. .com.
“We’re adding an extension to the booster that’s made up of almost all of the slots, basically,” Musk told Vance, according to Space.com. “This allows the motor shaft in the upper stage to pass through a kind of maniacal extension of the booster and not just blow itself off.”
The hatch and shield are intended to protect the booster, as SpaceX wants to reuse both the spacecraft and the booster after each flight. This is key to the Starship’s revolutionary capabilities: a fully reusable, Mars-grade, human-ready rocket.
A water deluge system has been added to the launch pad, which essentially floods the area with water to keep it from getting too hot, Musk told Vance to Space.com.
This system uses a steel plate that “basically looks like a giant, upside-down shower head,” Musk said.
According to Space.com, SpaceX has also repaired and reinforced the launch pad so that next time the concrete can withstand the power of the Starship.
This post has been updated to include new information.
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