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Starship Could Take flight To Space This Year

During a press conference, Elon Musk gave an update on the progress of the Starship mission. Robotic arm, new engine, presentation video… the mega-rocket should be delivered on time.

It was a long-awaited press conference. On the night of Thursday February 10 to Friday February 11 in France, Elon Musk, the boss of Tesla and SpaceX, gave news of his Starship mega-rocket, which should make its first orbital flight in 2022. The billionaire was in any case says “very confident” . The ship was also chosen by NASA to be the lander for the Artemis lunar missions.

Elon Musk and SpaceX unveiled a computer-generated video of a theoretical Starship flight. Composed of the Starship spacecraft and its Super Heavy first stage, the system lives up to its mastodon nickname. It is 120 m high, 9 m in diameter, and can carry 100 t of payload. If the two elements have never flown together, Starship has already made itself known through test flights – and some explosions – filmed . The first successful launch and landing of a prototype Starship rocket took place last May.

The press conference was also an opportunity to show how the arm of the launch tower that equips the Starbase works. Super Heavy launchers are not intended to land on a barge in the water, they will return directly to the base where they should be grabbed, before touching down, by the launch tower itself. A video of the robotic arm is also available. The arm has a double use since it will allow to assemble the upper part of the Starship to the lower part, called Super Heavy.

SpaceX also presented the Raptor 2, the new engine of the rocket, which develops more than 230 t of thrust (approximately 2250 kN) when the Raptor 1 managed “only” a thrust of 185 t (1800 kN) at the level of the sea. SpaceX has published a video of the operation of one of these Raptor 2 installed horizontally. It remains to be seen whether the engine’s production capacity will be sufficient, the Starship requiring a whopping 35 Raptors, including 29 for the Super Heavy.

Another unknown: the production and flight test center in Boca Chica, on the southeastern tip of the Gulf of Mexico coast, is currently undergoing an environmental site assessment, conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration ( FAA). The authority should decide in the coming weeks if the project of its extension has a significant environmental impact on the area. Elon Musk has indicated that there “could be an approval in March” .

SOURCE: SpaceX

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