ON VIDEO | SpaceX’s massive Starship rocket took off on its second test flight – TVA Nouvelles

SpaceX launched the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, Starship, on Saturday after an initial launch that ended in a gigantic explosion in the spring. According to Sky News and BBC, SpaceX has lost contact with the rocket.

• Also read: The launch of the SpaceX-designed Starship rocket has been postponed until Saturday

“Nominal trajectory of the spacecraft,” we could hear on the live video feed from Elon Musk’s company a few minutes after the rocket’s launch.

The Starship module placed at the top of the rocket successfully separated from the Super Heavy propulsion stage, which did not survive its planned descent and suffered an explosion, according to commentators on the video stream.

The giant 120-meter-tall rocket blasted off the ground just after 7:00 a.m. local time (1:00 p.m. GMT) from the SpaceX base in Boca Chica in the far south of Texas in the United States.

This second test flight by SpaceX, the company owned by billionaire Elon Musk, is being closely watched by NASA, which relies on this ship for its return flights to the moon.

On April 20, Starship launched in its full configuration for the first time. But several engines malfunctioned and SpaceX intentionally blew up the rocket after four minutes.

The launch left a cloud of dust several kilometers from the launch pad, which itself was heavily damaged. Chunks of concrete were catapulted by the power of the engines and a fire broke out in a nearby regional park.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) opened an investigation before finally giving the green light for a second flight on Wednesday.

Within seven months, the launch pad was rebuilt and a water flooding system was installed and tested. These streams of water that emerge when the engines start must dampen the sound waves and thus limit vibrations.

But associations are filing a separate lawsuit against the FAA, accusing it of misestimating the environmental impact of the new rocket. “We fear that this second launch will once again cause significant environmental damage,” Jared Margolis, lawyer for the NGO Center for Biological Diversity, told AFP.

The rocket consists of two stages: the Super Heavy propulsion stage with its 33 engines and the spaceship Starship placed above it, which in the broader sense gives the entire rocket its name.

During the first test, these two stages failed to separate in flight.

The separation system was therefore changed, Elon Musk said during a conference in early October, adding that testing this system was “the riskiest part” of the second flight.

“I don’t want to raise my hopes too high,” warned the SpaceX boss.

The flight plan was the same as in April: the ship had to make an “almost complete circumnavigation of the earth” and land in the Pacific off the coast of Hawaii, the billionaire described. Technically, it will not reach Earth’s orbit, but will be “just below.”

Experts say that the explosion of the prototypes is less of an image problem for the company than for NASA and its public funds. Chaining tests together using a rapid iteration process can speed up the development of its machines.

But the development of Starship does not appear to be fast enough to meet the plans of the American space agency, which has signed a contract with SpaceX. A modified version of the machine will serve as a lunar lander to bring astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972.


AFP

This mission, called Artemis 3, is officially scheduled for 2025 – a date that seems increasingly unrealistic.

Beyond the Moon, Elon Musk wants to make Starship a “widespread means of transportation to every destination in the solar system,” including Mars.

Their goal is to establish an autonomous colony on the Red Planet to make humanity a multiplanetary species.


Portal

If the size of the spacecraft is “absurd,” he explains, it’s because building a “permanent base on the Moon and a city on Mars” requires transporting millions of tons of payload.

But Starship’s real innovation is that it must be fully reusable, as the two stages are designed to eventually land back on their launch pad – reducing costs. Currently, only the first stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is being recovered.

The spacecraft is larger than both NASA’s new mega rocket, SLS (98 m), which launched for the first time a year ago, and the legendary Saturn V, the rocket of the Apollo moon program (111 m).

Starship’s launch thrust is also about twice as strong as those of these two launch vehicles.


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