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Starship Update - August 2, 2021

Starship SN10

SpaceX continues its Starship program, with testing being done in south Texas. It is one of the projects I am most excited about. It will be twice as powerful as the largest rocket ever (Saturn V), will hold 1.5 times the propellant and burn it at double the thrust. It will also be fully reusable.

The first orbital test flight of this system will likely happen this month. The booster and upper stage for this test flight are nearly constructed, as is the orbital launch tower. This has all been achieved over the past two years, a rapid development pace. There have been several sub-orbital flights to test reentry profiles, most of which ended in spectacular explosions, although still major successes with a great deal of system architecture proven.

Starship SN10 Starship SN10 performing a flip landing maneuver.
View looking directly up.

Development began first with the upper stage. Once this platform is developed and proven, various types will be developed. First will be a cargo version, capable of lifting 100 tons to orbit. Other versions will include a lunar lander, with no heat shield and separate landing engines nearer the top of the vehicle. A 'tanker' starship will be constructed specifically for the purpose of carrying fuel to orbit, to supply other starships. And lastly will be a crewed version, capable of carrying perhaps up to 100 people.

Shown below are two pictures of the booster stage under construction:

Booster Stage Booster Stage
Raptor Engines on Starship booster Raptor Engines on Starship Booster

No booster stage has yet to fly, although there have been static fires. The booster will fly for the first time, with a starship stacked ontop, during the orbital test flight. The flight will take off from south Texas, the booster will make a soft and upright landing in the Gulf of Mexico. The starship will then boost to orbit, aerobrake over the Pacific Ocean and soft land upright north of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands.

Originally published

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Starship Update - August 2, 2021
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