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SpaceX postpones maiden test flight of the world’s biggest rocket Starship

Published: 20th Apr, 2023

Context

SpaceX postponed the first test flight of Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built, designed to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars and beyond.

  • Issue:pressurization issue in the booster stage

About Starship

  • Together, the Starship spacecraft and the Super Heavy rocket are collectively referred to as Starship.
  • Starship is a super-heavy-lift rocket and spacecraft that could ferry more than 100 people a time to the Red Planet.
  • Starship, a rocket and spacecraft combination, consists of a 50-metre tall spacecraft designed to carry crew and cargo that sits atop a 70-metre first-stage Super Heavy booster rocket.
  • Reusable transport system: The system is designed to be fully and rapidly reusable.
    • Being fully reusable means the principal hardware elements are not discarded in the sea or allowed to burn up, as happens with some other launch systems, but return to the ground so they can be flown again.
    • Rapid reusability means that after coming back from space, Starship can be re-filled with propellant and be ready to launch again in a short period of time - like an aircraft. This reduces the cost of the whole enterprise.
  • Collectively referred to as Starship, the spacecraft and the Super Heavy rocket have never flown in combination together, although there have been several sub-orbital test flights of the spacecraft alone.

 'Spacefaring civilisation'

  • The founding ethos of SpaceX was to make life multi-planetary.
  • Settling humans on other worlds, such as Mars, could preserve civilisation if Earth were to experience a cataclysm, such as a large asteroid impact.

Important features

  • Super Heavy booster is the first stage of Starship and the Starship spacecraft is the second stage of the Starship system. It is capable of point-to-point transport on Earth.
  • Material: The rocket is made of stainless steel.
  • Measurement: The Starship spacecraft will be about 50 metres tall and 9 metres wide.
  • Payload capacity: It will have a payload capacity of between 100 tonnes and 150 tonnes.
  • Powered by: It will be powered by three normal Raptor engines and three Raptor engines specially modified for use in the vacuum of space. Together, this will give it a thrust capacity of 1,500 tonnes of force.
  • Fuel: It is fueled with 10 million pounds of liquid methane and oxygen. The new fuel can be stored at more manageable temperaturesthan liquid hydrogen, meaning it doesn't need as much insulation and is less prone to leaks.

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