Gwynne Shotwell: SpaceX Starship’s first Orbital flight from Texas could happen next Month

Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX, said that the company’s new Starship rocket, which would ultimately enable people to go to Mars, will likely launch on a test flight from Texas in June or July, according to a Bloomberg story. Crew-4, as well as 53 other Starlink satellites, were recently put into orbit by the company. In addition, it handled the splashdown of its Crew-3 mission, which was carried out in partnership with NASA.

This mission, Transporter 5, is scheduled to launch on June 1 utilizing a Falcon 9 rocket, which will be the company’s second commercial mission. It is expected that Starship, SpaceX’s next-generation launch vehicle, will significantly improve the company’s spaceflight capabilities by enabling fully reusable launch vehicles. At the moment, the company is able to reuse Falcon 9 first stage boosters, leaving the second stage to disintegrate on reentry.

SpaceX’s Starship will move the company one step closer to one of its key aims, which is to cut the cost of space travel to the point where human spaceflight to Mars is conceivable at a reasonable price. Shotwell said at an engineering conference that human exploration of Mars is “inevitable” and that nuclear propulsion has the potential to be used for long-distance space travel. Shotwell also said that she would not be one of the individuals who will ultimately go to Mars utilizing SpaceX’s technology since she “doesn’t enjoy camping.”

The President of SpaceX said that she expects Starship may launch from the company’s Boca China launch site in Texas as soon as next month, if not sooner. In the same area, the firm has undertaken a number of Starship prototype test flights, which are now ongoing.

The Starship launch is awaiting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration

Before Starship can be launched into space, SpaceX must first get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration’s environmental assessment process (FAA). Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, recently tweeted that the Starship’s orbital maiden flight could take place as soon as May. However, the Federal Aviation Administration later announced that it would delay the publication of its environmental review and that it would be published no later than May 31.

One of SpaceX’s newest engines, the Raptor V2, will power the Starship, providing up to 25 percent more power at 230 tonnes or around 500 thousand pounds of thrust at sea level. The launch vehicle will reuse its expensive components, resulting in a significant reduction in the total cost of subsequent launches.

The president of SpaceX also emphasized the importance of the company’s relationship with NASA in making Mars excursions a reality in the future. As previously disclosed, NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to create a modified version of its Starship launch vehicle to be used as the Moon lander for Artemis III, the agency’s first crewed trip to the Moon since 1972. The deal was signed in April of this year.

Source: Interesting Engineering

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Written by Alex Bruno

Freelance space writer Alex Bruno specializes in covering China's quickly expanding space industry. In 2021, he started writing for SpaceXMania. He also contributes to publications including SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. When Alex was a small child, he first experienced the space bug after seeing Voyager photographs of alien planets in our solar system. When not in space, Alex likes to go trail jogging in the Finnish countryside.

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