SpaceX To Launch Starship Today: All You Need To Know

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Starship
Image Credits: Ars Technica

The Starship Orbital Flight Test is set for launch today, 17 April 2023. There will be a 150-minute test window for the launch of SpaceX’s Starship. The launch will take place from Starbase in Texas at 8:00 am CT (6:30 pm IST).

It is the first-ever orbital flight test of SpaceX, of a fully integrated Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket, they together are called Starship. Starship has been stacked at Starbase, one of the world’s first commercial spaceports designed for orbital missions.

The Starship system represents a fully reusable transportation system and can carry crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond, making it the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever.

SpaceX has also conducted several tests of Starship’s first stage or the Super Heavy rocket. These tests include the complex static fires that resulted in a full-duration 31-Raptor engine test in February 2023, where SpaceX set a record for the largest number of simultaneous rocket engine ignitions in history. 

The launch and catch tower is 146 meters tall and is able to support vehicle integration, launch and catch of the Super Heavy rocket. SpaceX will not attempt a vertical landing of Starship or a catch of the Super Heavy booster for the first orbital flight test. 

The inaugural flight test will not complete a full orbit around Earth. If successful, however, it will travel about 150 miles above Earth’s surface, well into altitudes deemed to be outer space.

Starship consists of two parts: the Super Heavy booster, a gargantuan rocket that houses 33 engines, and the Starship spacecraft, which sits atop the booster during launch and is designed to break away after the booster expends its fuel to finish the mission. The massive Super Heavy rocket booster will give the first blast of power at liftoff.

Less than three minutes after takeoff, it’s expected to expend its fuel and separate from the Starship spacecraft, leaving the booster to be discarded in the ocean. The Starship will use its own six engines, blazing for more than six minutes, to propel itself to nearly orbital speeds.

The vehicle will then complete a partial lap of the planet, reentering the Earth’s atmosphere near Hawaii. It’s expected to splash down off the coast about an hour and a half after liftoff.

The Starship system is 120 meters tall, 9 meters in diameter, and has a payload capacity of 100 to 150 metric tons. It can carry up to 150 metric tons fully reusable and 250 metric tons expendable, meaning it can carry an extra weight of 250 tons.

SpaceX’s Starship space launch will be live-streamed on SpaceX from about 45 minutes before liftoff. People can watch the launch online on the official YouTube channel of SpaceX, or on the SpaceX website.

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