SpaceX’s Starship rocket prepares for launch: Live updates

Elon Musk’s silver vision of sending men to the moon and Mars lies near a 480-foot launch tower in the southern corner of Texas. It’s the new SpaceX rocket called Starship, which is more powerful than any vehicle ever to go into space.

As early as Monday morning, SpaceX will attempt to launch a Starship prototype into space for the first time.

During an audio discussion with Twitter users on Sunday night, Mr.

Here’s what you need to know about the flight.

When will Starship launch and how can I watch it?

The Starship and the superheavy booster that will carry it into orbit are scheduled to be loaded with propellants early Monday morning at the SpaceX test site in Texas, outside Brownsville. The launch pad, known as the SpaceX Starbase, is located near the Gulf of Mexico.

SpaceX has scheduled the flight for 9 a.m. ET, and the company previously said it could launch as soon as 10:30 a.m., an earlier 8 a.m. launch.

SpaceX said it will launch a livestream on its YouTube channel 45 minutes before the rocket is ready for launch. Or watch in the video player embedded above.

If problems arise and SpaceX can’t launch on Monday, it will continue to try throughout the week. During the launch site It seemed blurry Sunday afternoon, SpaceX said The weather was “pretty good tomorrow morning, but we’re keeping an eye on the wind shear.”

But Mr. Musk set low expectations for Monday’s launch, suggesting it was likely to be delayed for technical reasons.

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“Because we’re going to be very careful about this release, there’s a good chance it will be postponed,” he said. “If it goes wrong, there’s a lot to go wrong.”

What is a starship?

It is the tallest rocket ever built – 394 feet tall, or nearly 90 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty including the plinth.

It has the most engines ever on a rocket booster: a super-heavy, lower section that propels the upper starship into orbit, with SpaceX’s 33 powerful Raptor engines attached to its base. They can generate 16 million pounds of thrust at full range, more than the Saturn V that carried the Apollo astronauts to the moon.

Starship is designed to be completely reusable. The super-heavy booster is a lander similar to SpaceX’s smaller Falcon 9 rockets, and the starship can return from the space belly into the atmosphere like a skydiver before returning to a vertical position for landing.

Why is SpaceX building Starship?

SpaceX’s current Falcon 9 rocket is the world’s most frequently launched rocket. It has been sent into space 24 times in 2023, most recently on Friday night.

Starship is the next step. It can carry more cargo and more people than the Falcon 9. And because it is fully reusable, the Starship will drastically reduce the cost of launching payloads into orbit.

NASA is paying SpaceX to develop a version of the vehicle to carry astronauts from lunar orbit to the lunar surface for the Artemis III and IV missions later in the decade. Sending people to Mars Mr. Spacecraft is central to Musk’s vision.

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What happens during the flight?

For Monday’s test flight, the Starship will make a segment of its orbit around Earth, starting in Texas and splashing in the waters off Hawaii.

Eventually SpaceX hopes to reuse both the Superheavy Booster and the Starship Orbital Vehicle for future launches and routinely land them. But on Monday the spaceship will crash into the ocean and sink. They are considered the first test of the vehicles, and the data can help engineers fix what isn’t working and make improvements.

Sunday night Mr. According to Musk, the main goal of the flight is to get the rocket a good distance from the launch pad without anything going wrong.

“Don’t blow up the launchpad,” he said.

About eight minutes after Monday’s launch, the superheavy booster will splash down in the Gulf of Mexico. The Starship vehicle will fly high into space, reach an altitude of about 150 miles and circle the Earth before re-entering the atmosphere. About 90 minutes after launch, if it survives re-entry, it will splash down in the Pacific Ocean about 62 miles north of the island of Kauai.

But with all the new systems aboard the Starship, the SpaceX founder acknowledged the difficulties in achieving all flight goals.

“There are a million ways this rocket could fail,” Mr. Musk said. “I could go on for hours.”

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