The Starship prototype SN9 starts at the company’s development facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX in his filing on Thursday revealed his plan for the next step in testing his massive spacecraft rocket in a flight that would hose down off the coast of Hawaii.
SpaceX conducted several test flights with Starship prototypes over the past year. However, the plans describe the company’s first attempt at launching the rocket into orbit.
Starship prototypes are about 160 feet tall, or about the size of a 16-story building, and are made of stainless steel. This is the early version of the rocket that Musk revealed in 2019. The rocket initially starts with a “Super Heavy”. Booster, which makes up the lower half of the rocket and is about 30 meters high. Together, Starship and Super Heavy will be nearly 400 feet tall when stacked for launch.
An artist’s rendering shows the Starship SpaceX rocket launching on the Super Heavy booster.
The company’s FCC records say it will launch a Starship rocket on a super heavy booster from the SpaceX development facility in Boca Chica, Texas. Then the booster will separate to partially return “and land in the Gulf of Mexico about 20 miles from shore,” the records said.
“The Orbital Starship will continue to fly between Florida Straits. It will enter orbit until a motorized, targeted landing is made in a soft ocean landing about 100 km off the northwest coast of Kauai,” SpaceX wrote on the file.
The orbital flight would take a little over 90 minutes. SpaceX is working in coordination with the FCC, US Air Force, NASA and FAA for the flight.
It’s been almost a year since Musk told SpaceX employees that progress at Starship needs to be accelerated “dramatically and immediately,” which has been cited as the company’s top priority. Since then, the program has evolved rapidly, with a steady stream of production, testing, and flights. SpaceX landed successfully just last week and recovered the Starship prototype SN15. It was the rocket’s fifth high-altitude flight test and the first to end without the prototype exploding.
The company is developing Starship to bring cargo and people on missions to the moon and Mars.
Last month, NASA placed a nearly $ 3 billion contract with SpaceX to build a variant of the Starship moon to bring astronauts to the surface of the moon for the agency’s Artemis missions. While Musk’s company continued to advance Starship development, NASA stopped SpaceX work on the HLS program after Jeff Bezos ‘Blue Origin and Leidos’ subsidiary Dynetics each filed protests against NASA’s procurement.
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