MADRID, 18 Nov. (EUROPA PRESS) -
SpaceX once again launched its Starship interplanetary space vehicle this November 18 from its base in Boca Chica, on the Texas coast.
This is the second attempt to send this giant rocket on an orbital test flight, after the failure of the first in April.
The flight trajectory is similar to that of the first attempt. The rocket began to rise at 13:03 UTC, two and a half seconds after the booster ignited its 33 Raptor engines powered by a combined liquid methane and liquid oxygen propellant.
The enormous vehicle reached the moment of maximum aerodynamic pressure - the peak of structural stress - 52 seconds after takeoff, with speeds exceeding 2,150 kilometers per hour.
Two minutes and 50 seconds after takeoff, the booster shut down its engines. The Starship stage ignited its own two seconds later to separate from the Super Heavy booster using a new separation method called hot-staging and begin its part of the flight.
Next, Super Heavy performed a turning maneuver by restarting the engine to return to land 8 minutes into the flight in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Starship, for its part, continued to ascend for six minutes until reaching space. She then turned off her engines with the aim of circling the Earth in a 90-minute suborbital trajectory at a minimum altitude of 150 kilometers. Before completing the trip around the world, it will re-enter the atmosphere and fall into the Pacific Ocean, near Hawaii.
SpaceX's Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket, collectively called Starship, represent a fully reusable transportation system designed to transport crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond. Starship is the most powerful launch vehicle ever developed in the world, capable of carrying up to 150 fully reusable metric tons and 250 expendable metric tons. Measuring 9 meters in diameter, the Starship spacecraft is 50 meters high and is mounted on the 70-meter Super Heavy booster, equipped with 33 Raptor engines.
For this second flight, Space X reinforced the foundations of the launch pad, which was destroyed during the first takeoff. Also to mitigate damage, a water-cooled steel flame deflector has been constructed.
Last April 20, the company led by Elon Musk tried to orbit its Starship for the first time but problems with the separation of stages before reaching orbital altitude forced the rocket to self-destruct over the Gulf of Mexico after 4 minutes. flight. Despite everything, it then became the most powerful rocket to leave a launch pad with more than 17 million pounds of thrust at takeoff.
The launch system in Texas, and one that will eventually be built at the Kennedy Space Center, is designed to eventually return the Super Heavy booster to the 142-meter-tall launch integration tower often called "Mechazilla," with a landing with the help of two rotating metal arms called "sticks".
The Starship spacecraft would also perform a vertical landing at its destination, making the combination the industry's first fully reusable rocket.
NASA has been waiting for SpaceX's Starship, as it has contracted with Musk's company to provide a working version for its astronauts in the Artemis program to use on their journey to the surface of the moon.