SpaceX has prepared the elements for the scheduled orbital test flight of its Starship rocket ahead of Elon Musk’s address tonight at Starbase in Texas.
The huge Super Heavy rocket is capped with the SN 20, which refers to the Starship prototype’s Serial Number 20 variant. The combined rocket reaches a height of 394 feet.
In contrast, the new Space Launch System rocket from Kennedy Space Center for the planned Artemis I mission is 322 feet tall, while the Saturn V rockets for the Apollo missions were 363 feet tall.
At 9 p.m. EST, Musk will conduct a demonstration at the company’s Boca Chica, Texas plant, where construction on the new rocket has been ongoing for the last several years.
The 165-foot-tall SN 20 was put atop Booster 4 during the nighttime Starship stacking. These are the two parts that will undertake Starship’s maiden suborbital test flight.
Previous test flights only got up to around 6 miles and only used three or fewer of the new, powerful Raptor engines in the upper portion of the combined rocket. The orbital version will be accompanied by a Super Heavy booster powered by 37 Raptor engines.
“As far as backgrounds go, this is a decent one,” Musk stated earlier this week on Twitter.
The findings of an environmental study done by the Federal Aviation Administration are expected to be announced on February 28. It has the potential to pave the way for the test launch.
The evaluation was supposed to be issued by the end of 2021, but it was postponed due to more than 18,000 public comments on a draught version of the study released last September.
Before trying a launch from Texas, several environmental organizations have urged SpaceX to go through a more rigorous environmental impact statement procedure.
Meanwhile, at Kennedy Space Center, SpaceX has started work on a second launch complex to enable Starship flights. When SpaceX was only aiming to utilize the site for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches, it went through an EIC.
When it launches, the rocket will be the most powerful ever to take off from Earth, with a push of more than 16 million pounds. This roughly doubles the strength of planned Artemis missions and is more than twice the power of Apollo missions.
When combined with the rocket, the Starship design may be utilized for suborbital point-to-point flights on Earth as well as deep-space missions to the moon and Mars.
For the first time since 1972, a version of Starship will be built to assist the Artemis III mission, which will return people to the lunar surface.
HOW DO I WATCH ELON MUSK’S STARSHIP PRESENTATION?
SpaceX plans to Livestream Musk’s presentation to its YouTube channel.
WHAT TIME DOES THE SPACEX LIVESTREAM START?
Musk said the presentation would begin at 8PM Central time, but given his record on past performances, it’d be wise to give that start time some padding.
Scheduled start time: New York: 9PM / San Francisco: 6PM / London: 2AM / Berlin: 3AM / Moscow: 5AM / New Delhi: 7:30AM / Beijing: 10AM / Tokyo: 11AM / Melbourne: 1PM