SpaceX Shares Stunning Starship Snaps Ahead Of Historic Test Flight
SpaceX Shares Stunning Starship Snaps Ahead Of Historic Test Flight
Jul 13, 2024 7:10 PM

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SpaceX has shared some of the best images of its fully stacked Starship rocket as less than a day remains before its historic test flight in Boca Chica, Texas. The FAA cleared Starship for its second test flight yesterday after a process that took seven months to complete. With the latest review, the agency and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) evaluated whether new water deluge and fire suppression systems for the launch pad would require a new environmental approval. Fortunately for SpaceX and its fans, multiple tests conducted at the pad certified it, and ahead of tomorrow's launch, SpaceX has shared images of what might be the second Starship prototype's final sunset.

SpaceX Stacks Starship For The Final Time Before Friday's Historic Test Flight

SpaceX's Starship is the biggest rocket in the world and the first in human history to fire up 33 rocket engines simultaneously for lift-off. It is also the only rocket of its kind, in scale and complexity, developed by the private sector. SpaceX's U.S.-based rivals, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, have smaller rockets designed to be partially reusable and carry less payload.

On the other hand, the Starship second stage is the world's first second-stage rocket that will be fully reusable. This will significantly reduce the marginal cost of launch once Starship is operational, as SpaceX will have to only refurbish the second stage before sending it on new missions.

Additionally, the second stage will also be customizable based on its mission profile. So for NASA missions, like the agency's lunar lander for the Artemis Moon program, the second stage Starship will be a habitable spacecraft. For others, such as Starlink launches to low Earth orbit (LEO), it will simply be a reusable ferry that lands on Earth.

Starship stacked for flight. This is another chance to put Starship in a true flight environment, maximizing how much we learn.

Rapid iterative development is essential as we work to build a fully reusable launch system capable of carrying satellites, payloads, crew, and cargo… pic.twitter.com/Gkx7lKYVuz

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 16, 2023

The latest images shared by SpaceX are among some of the best that we've seen so far. They show the massive 394-foot-tall rocket with the Sun in the background. The sharp contrast between the black-tiled upper stage Starship rocket, the sunlight patterns created by the launch tower's design and structure and the warm color palette of the image provide perhaps the best social media send-off to a rocket that will make history either way.

The second fully stacked Starship prototype has made quite a journey to become ready to fly to space. SpaceX installed a new interstage at the top of its Super Heavy booster and upgraded the rocket's engine control systems to ensure flight maneuverability. Both these upgrades relate in one way or another to the crucial event of stage separation during tomorrow's test flight. Stage separation is when a rocket's first and second stages jettison away from each other, and this was one of the points of failure during SpaceX's April test flight attempt.

Before the launch, SpaceX tested out the Starship launch pad, the water deluge system, Starship's plumbing and its engines to root out any potential problems. Its Super Heavy booster performed remarkably well in April, as not only did it clear the launch pad, but it also successfully flew high enough for the next stage of the flight. For the second Starship test flight, SpaceX will be eager for a successful mission so that it can move forward at its own breakneck space and start regularly launching to demonstrate essential capabilities such as in-orbit refueling.

It's a convoy, not the one we wanted to see under 20 hours to launch.

LR11000 is rising. This feels like a destack is coming.

Loadspreader and crane are related to the Hot Staging Ring, so Ship 25 has to come off first.https://t.co/e3xbqPnwZ5 pic.twitter.com/dMGk6gA2Ac

— Chris Bergin - NSF (@NASASpaceflight) November 16, 2023

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