SpaceX: Expert discusses Starship test flights
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SpaceX has recently landed a Starship prototype, the SN15, for the first time but it is not stopping there. The landing of the SN15 will have given Elon Musk and co. a major confidence boost in their bid to get humans to Mars, after four successive Starship prototype explosions. Following the SN15’s landing, SpaceX has now laid out its plans for the first orbital test of the Starship.
The mission was revealed in a filing to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC).
The document shows that SpaceX plans to launch the 160 foot tall Starship on a Super Heavy rocket booster from Texas.
The booster will then separate to return after two minutes and 49 seconds “and land in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 20 miles from the shore”, the document says.
However, the Starship will continue on its journey, where it will land in Florida after 90 minutes.
The SpaceX document said: “The Orbital Starship will continue on flying between the Florida Straits.
“It will achieve orbit until performing a powered, targeted landing approximately 100km (~62miles) off the northwest coast of Kauai in a soft ocean landing.”
SpaceX says it is hoping to learn as much as possible from the test flight in order to continue its mission to Mars.
The document said: “SpaceX intends to collect as much data as possible during flight to quantify entry dynamics and better understand what the vehicle experiences in a flight regime that is extremely difficult to accurately predict or replicate computationally.
“This data will anchor any changes in vehicle design or CONOPs [concept of operations] after the first flight and build better models for us to use in our internal simulations.”
Mr Musk added on Twitter: “We need to make sure ship won’t break up on reentry, hence deorbit over Pacific.”
A date has not been decided for the launch, but SpaceX chief Mr Musk has previously said he hopes to make it happen before the end of the year.
Indeed, the document confirms this as the company expects it to happen any time between June 20 and December 20.
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SpaceX’s Starship will make it to Mars within the 2020s, according to Mr Musk.
Mr Musk said on Twitter: “SpaceX will be landing Starships on Mars well before 2030.
“The really hard threshold is making Mars Base Alpha self-sustaining.”
Mars Base Alpha is the code-name for the first human base on the Red Planet.
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