SpaceX has postponed the second test flight of its largest rocket until the weekend.
SpaceX is planning to make a second test flight of the biggest rocket in the world on Saturday. There is anticipation for an impressive demonstration following the April launch, where the rocket caused damage to the launchpad and later exploded while flying.
The 120-meter Starship rocket, which holds the title of the most powerful ever constructed, was scheduled for launch in Texas on Friday. However, the launch has been postponed until the weekend due to the discovery that a component needs to be replaced.
SpaceX, a company that launches smaller rockets for satellite and human space missions to the International Space Station, received authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration this week to proceed with their test. Local concerns arose when debris from their April launch was found scattered over a large area.
Elon Musk, the creator of SpaceX, envisions Starship as the initial stage in a human expedition to Mars. The cruise vessel is intended to transport up to 100 astronauts and measures almost three times the length of a commercial airplane. It towers over the Saturn V rocket, which famously transported humans to the moon in 1969.
While Nasa typically prioritizes risk avoidance, SpaceX has a history of being open to the possibility of test flights failing. According to Musk, the company sees value in learning from mistakes in their private ventures.
SpaceX humorously dubbed the explosion in April as a “rapid unscheduled disassembly” and stated that the four-minute flight yielded crucial insights for future improvement.
During the second test, the rocket underwent various upgrades, such as the installation of a new heat shield on the booster. The booster is the lower portion of the system that utilizes 33 Raptor engines to provide thrust and lift the rocket off the ground before separating from the cruise vessel. In the previous launch in April, this separation was not successful.
A new flame deflector made of water-cooled steel has been installed on the launch pad, which was damaged during the initial test when the thrusters destroyed the concrete.
The top and bottom parts of the system have been engineered to safely return to Earth for a gentle landing, allowing them to be reused. This method is much more cost-effective than constructing completely new components.
Elon Musk announced the creation of Starship, formerly known as the BFR, with the intention of enabling humans to become a “multiplanetary species”. His goal is to start the process of colonizing Mars in order to protect humanity from potential catastrophes on Earth, including asteroid impacts or deadly pandemics.
SpaceX claims that Starship, which has a payload capacity of up to 150 tonnes, will be able to transport dozens of people on long-duration interplanetary flights. Nasa has contracted SpaceX to land astronauts, including the first woman, on the moon as soon as 2025. That date is considered ambitious.
The company has revealed their future plans to utilize the spacecraft as a shuttle for commercial travel on Earth, guaranteeing trips from London to Tokyo in under an hour.
SpaceX built its own spaceport, named Starbase, on the Gulf of Mexico in Boca Chica, Texas, from where it will launch its rockets. Several other starship systems are already in production for future tests.