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 SpaceX Starship orbitale testvlucht (1) infographic
Graphic shows the SpaceX Starship system.


SpaceX Starship orbitale testvlucht (1)

By Duncan Mil

February 11, 2022 - The orbital test flight of SpaceX’s Starship will see Serial Number 20 (SN20) fly atop a giant Booster 4 launcher. Booster 4 will splash down in the Gulf of Mexico while SN20 orbits Earth.

SN20 and its first stage booster are set for an orbital launch as soon as March from SpaceX’s testing facility in Boca Chica, Texas. The landmark liftoff is awaiting a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration environmental review of the Starbase facility.

The fully reusable Starship system will send people and cargo to the moon, Mars and other distant planets. Starship prototypes have flown before, but only reaching maximum altitudes of around 10 kilometres. Those previous launches involved Starship vehicles with no more than three Raptor rocket engines, and none of them lifted off atop a Super Heavy booster.

Booster 4’s 29 massive Raptor engines will fire for 169 seconds before releasing Starship to fly powered by six engines -- three sea-level engines for atmospheric flight and three large vacuum-optimized Raptors for high performance in space.

Starship will soar into orbit and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, 100km northwest of the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says a key goal is to ensure that the Starship rockets are reusable, and future tests will see both stages return to the launch pad rather than splashdown in the ocean. Musk says SpaceX could launch a Starship to the moon “probably sooner” than 2024.

PUBLISHED: 11/02/2022; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: SpaceX