In his career of research and experience towards outer space, SpaceX launched this Saturday the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, the Starship, whose two modules were successfully separated, although they later exploded and that caused the company of super-millionaire Elon Musk to celebrate the “partial success.”
The sum of components and small details that must come together for the entire process to be carried out with precision is simply amazing, but the Starship engineers managed to successfully separate the capsule that will once carry astronauts from the enormous Super Heavy booster. although later both parties did not survive what should have been their scheduled relegationaccording to commentators from tycoon Elon Musk’s company said live.
The Starship rocket measures 120 meters high and took off shortly after 7:00 a.m. local time (1:00 p.m. GMT) from the SpaceX base in Boca Chica, Texas.
The module placed at the top of the rocket this time successfully separated from the Super Heavy booster module, until then the mission was successful, but the two parts then exploded without being able to begin their scheduled descent, according to SpaceX. The rocket comprises two floors: the Super Heavy propulsion and its 33 engines, and the ship itself, called Starship.
“What we believe at this time is that the second floor automatic flight termination system appears to have been activated very late,” explained a SpaceX commentator in a video.
For the space sector analyst Laura Seward Forczyk, the launch “It was a fantastic partial success.” “The truth is, the launch exceeded my expectations,” he explained to AFP.
“We welcome the progress of SpaceX”
This second SpaceX test flight was closely watched by NASA, which has this ship for its return missions to the Moon. The director of the US space agency, Bill Nelson, congratulated SpaceX on Saturday and said “we salute your progress” on this launch, referring to the event as a “opportunity to learn and then fly again.”
“Together, NASA and SpaceX will take humanity back to the Moon, Mars and beyond,” wrote the head of NASA in X.
On April 20, Starship lifted off for the first time in its full configuration, but several engines malfunctioned and SpaceX intentionally blew up the rocket four minutes later.
Chunks of concrete were catapulted by the power of the engines and a fire broke out in a nearby regional park. The US aviation regulator (FAA) opened an investigation before finally giving the green light on Wednesday to a second flight.
Over seven months, the launch pad was rebuilt and a water “deluge” system was installed and tested to attenuate sound waves and limit vibrations. However, environmental groups have sued the FAA for incorrectly evaluating the environmental impact of the new rocket. In the first test, the two floors failed to separate in flight, but this Saturday they did.
To correct this, the separation system was modified, Musk said during a conference in October, adding that testing this system would be “the riskiest part” of the second flight. “I don’t want to raise too much hope,” he warned. The flight plan was the same as in April: the ship was to make an “almost complete return to the Earth” and land in the Pacific, off the coast of Hawaii, Musk said.
“Make it reusable”
But Starship development does not appear to be fast enough to live up to the plans of NASA, which has signed a contract with SpaceX. A modified version of the machine is to serve as a lunar lander to take astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972.
This mission, called Artemis 3, is officially scheduled for 2025, a date that seems increasingly unrealistic. Musk turn Starship into “a means of transportation to any destination in the solar system”, including Mars.
Its goal is to establish an autonomous colony on the red planet, to make humanity a multiplanetary species. If Starship’s size is “absurd,” he explains, it’s because building a “permanent base on the Moon and a city on Mars” requires transporting millions of tons of cargo.
Starship is larger than NASA’s new megarocket, SLS (98 m), and the legendary Saturn V, the rocket of the Apollo lunar program (111 m). But the real innovation of Starship is that it should be completely reusable. SpaceX engineers work in this phase.