SpaceX completes ‘flight-like’ test of its Mars rocket Starship

The world's most powerful rocket is intended to take humans to the Moon, the Red Planet and beyond

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX has successfully completed a crucial fuelling test of its deep-space rocket, called Starship.

The world’s most powerful rocket has been in development for many years and is intended to take cargo and humans to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Starship was loaded with 4.6 million kg of propellant on Monday local time at SpaceX’s launch facilities in Boca Chica, Texas.

“Starship completed its first full flight-like wet dress rehearsal at Starbase today,” SpaceX said.

“This was the first time an integrated ship and booster were fully loaded with more than 10 million pounds of propellant.

“Today’s test will help verify a full launch countdown sequence, as well as the performance of Starship and the orbital pad for flight-like operations.”

The test also helped ensure that the rocket can be safely fuelled and that there are no leaks present.

It is a critical step for the company before it can carry out an orbital test flight and then begin operations.

Starship is a reusable two-stage rocket system that comprises a booster – the Super Heavy launch vehicle – and a Starship spacecraft.

It is the most powerful launch vehicle developed and will be able to produce 3,991 tonnes of thrust, 15 per cent more than Nasa’s Apollo Moon rocket Saturn V.

SpaceX is contracted by Nasa to develop the Starship Human Landing System, which would help astronauts land on the Moon under the US space agency’s Artemis programme.

But Mr Musk's ultimate goal is to make life multiplanetary by sending a million people to Mars by 2050 using his Starship fleets.

The craft would enter Mars’s atmosphere at 7.5 kilometres per second and would be equipped with a heat shield to withstand repeated entries.

Mr Musk has already sold seats on the Starship, including to American billionaire Jared Isaacman, who bought a place on the first crewed orbital flight.

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa will fly on a crewed flight to the Moon, taking eight artists with him as part of his dearMoon programme.

The next step for the company to prove the rocket is flight-ready is to carry out a static fire test, a ground where the rocket's engine is ignited.

SpaceX is yet to receive a launch licence by US authorities to carry out an orbital test flight.

Updated: January 24, 2023, 4:51 AM
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