Elon Musk sets low expectations before first SpaceX launch of Starship, most powerful rocket ever built.

Just a few months after NASA introduced the world to the most powerful rocket ever flown to orbit, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is prepared to set off its own creation — which could pack nearly twice the power of anything flown before.

SpaceX’s vehicle, called Starship, is currently sitting on a launch pad at the company’s facilities on the southern Texas coastline. The company is targeting liftoff at 8 a.m. CT (9 a.m. ET) on Monday, although it has the ability to take off anytime between 8 a.m. CT (9 a.m. ET) and 9:30 a.m. CT (10:30 a.m. ET).

“I guess I’d like to just set expectations low,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said during a Twitter “Spaces” event for his subscribers Sunday evening. “If we get far enough away from launch pad before something goes wrong, then I think I would consider that to be a success. Just don’t blow up the pad.”

He added: “There’s a good chance that it gets postponed since we’re going to be pretty careful about this launch.”

SpaceX has a livestream of the Starship launch here.

Folks on the ground near SpaceX’s facilities in South Texas can certainly catch an in-person glimpse. Locals are known to line the surrounding beaches in South Padre Island to watch tests, and this launch is sure to draw spectators.

SpaceX has repeatedly warned those in the area, however, to stay away from the “Keepout Zone” — the areas directly surrounding the launch site that have been deemed too close to the rocket to be safe during lift off.

The “Keepout Zone” includes the coastline south of South Padre Island and stretches a few miles inland.

About this mission

This will mark SpaceX’s first attempt to launch a fully assembled Starship vehicle, building on a years-long testing campaign.

Musk has talked about Starship — making elaborate presentations about its design and purpose — for half a decade, and he frequently harps on its potential for carrying cargo and humans to Mars. Musk has even said that his sole purpose for founding SpaceX was to develop a vehicle like Starship that could establish a human settlement on Mars.

Additionally, NASA has already awarded SpaceX contracts and options worth several billions of dollars to use Starship to ferry government astronauts to the surface of the moon under the space agency’s Artemis program.

The inaugural flight test will not complete a full orbit around Earth. If successful, however, it will travel about 150 miles above Earth’s surface, well into altitudes deemed to be outer space.

Starship consists of two parts: the Super Heavy booster, a gargantuan rocket that houses 33 engines, and the Starship spacecraft, which sits atop the booster during launch and is designed to break away after the booster expends its fuel to finish the mission.

The massive Super Heavy rocket booster will give the first blast of power at liftoff.

Less than three minutes after takeoff, it’s expected to expend its fuel and separate from the Starship spacecraft, leaving the booster to be discarded in the ocean. The Starship will use its own six engines, blazing for more than six minutes, to propel itself to nearly orbital speeds.

The vehicle will then complete a partial lap of the planet, reentering the Earth’s atmosphere near Hawaii. It’s expected to splash down off the coast about an hour and a half after liftoff.

What’s riding on this launch

Starship’s ultimate success or failure immensely consequential. Not only is it crucial to SpaceX’s future as a company — it also underpins the United States government’s ambitions for human exploration.

But it’s not all riding on this inaugural test flight. SpaceX has long established its willingness to embrace mishaps, mistakes and explosions in the name of refining the design of its spacecraft.

In the lead-up to the first launch of the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket in 2018, which held the title of most powerful rocket before NASA’s SLS took flight last year, Musk foresaw only a 50-50 chance of success.

“People (came) from all around the world to see what will either be a great rocket launch or the best fireworks display they’ve ever seen,” Musk told CNN at the time.

The inaugural Falcon Heavy launch was ultimately successful.

Since then, SpaceX has also been working to get its Super Heavy booster prepared for flight. The massive, 230-foot-tall (69-meter-tall) cylinder is packed with 33 of the company’s Raptor engines.

Fully stacked, Starship and Super Heavy stand about 400 feet (120 meters) tall.

SpaceX has been waiting more than a year to get FAA approval for this launch attempt.

The company, and federal regulators tasked with certifying SpaceX launches won’t pose risks to people or property in the area surrounding the launch site, have faced significant pushback from the local community, including from environmental groups.

SpaceX Starship launchpad FILE

SpaceX’s Starship rocket, the most powerful ever built, receives government approval for launch

But the Federal Aviation Administration, which licenses commercial rocket launches, announced Friday, April 14, that it granted the company’s request for an uncrewed flight test of the rocket out of the SpaceX facilities in South Texas.

“After a comprehensive license evaluation process, the FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy, payload, airspace integration and financial responsibility requirements,” the agency said in a statement.

During a call with reporters last week, an FAA official, who declined to be named for publication, said that the agency has been overseeing SpaceX’s compliance with the mitigating actions, some of which are still in the works, even as the company prepares for launch.

The FAA official said government personnel will be on the ground to ensure SpaceX complies with its license during the test launch.

Lämna ett svar

Din e-postadress kommer inte publiceras. Obligatoriska fält är märkta *