SpaceX supplies Starship megarocket for third launch

About to carry out the third attempt to launch the Starship mega rocket, SpaceX has just completed a critical test of refueling the vehicle complex at the Starbase facilities, near Boca Chica beach, in south Texas.

About Starship rocket launches:

  • The Starship megarocket is made up of two stages, the Super Heavy propellant and the spacecraft that gives the vehicle complex its name;
  • The first launch for a suborbital flight test took place on April 20, 2023
  • At the time, the 120-meter-high rocket (the largest ever built by humanity) exploded in the sky about four minutes after takeoff;
  • This is because, shortly before the separation of the two stages, at an altitude of 35 km, there was a failure, forcing the self-destruction procedure of the rocket, which fell and exploded 29 km away from the ground;
  • After seven months of anticipation, on November 18, SpaceX launched the vehicle for the second time;
  • Eight minutes and 30 seconds later, the Starship exploded upon entering orbit and lost communication with Earth, but the launch still went down in the history of space exploration as a successful test.
Vehicle megacomplex composed of the Starship and Super Heavy stages being refueled at SpaceX's Starbase. Credit: SpaceX via X

What was the Starship refueling test like?

In this test, the Starship and Super Heavy, both made of stainless steel, were filled with more than 4.5 million kg of liquid methane and liquid oxygen.

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, shared images of the test on X (formerly Twitter) this Monday (4), offering space enthusiasts a behind-the-scenes look at the preparations for the launch.

The Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy booster were designed by SpaceX to form the world's most powerful rocket, fully reusable and capable of carrying up to 165 tons into Earth orbit.

It is important to highlight that NASA chose the Starship megarocket as the lunar landing module for the Artemis 3 mission, scheduled to take astronauts to the Moon in 2026. However, before this milestone, SpaceX needs to successfully carry out a near-orbital flight, something that is not it was achieved in previous attempts in April and November 2023.

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SpaceX won a contract with NASA to offer Starship as a lunar landing module for the Artemis 3 mission in 2026. Credit: SpaceX

In a recent interview, Musk indicated the possibility of carrying out Starship's third test flight in early March. However, SpaceX is awaiting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to proceed with launch plans. The FAA, for its part, recently concluded an investigation into Starship's second test flight, which resulted in two explosions.

SpaceX needs to take 17 corrective actions

The results of the investigation highlighted 17 corrective actions that SpaceX needs to implement before the next launch. These include improvements to the Starship vehicle and the Super Heavy propellant, with a special focus on improving propellant filtration systems and reinforcing fire protection measures, aiming to ensure safety during all phases of flight.

The Starship and Super Heavy stages were transported to the Starbase launch pad in February, marking the final stage of preparations for the long-awaited flight. During this period, SpaceX implemented system adjustments to increase reliability and minimize the risk of failures during launch.

With all these measures, SpaceX approaches the third Starship launch with renewed confidence. The success of this event is crucial not only to the advancement of lunar missions, including NASA's ambitious Artemis 3 mission, but also to cementing SpaceX's position at the forefront of space exploration.

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