SpaceX Starship

Reusable super heavy-lift launch vehicle / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Starship is an American two-stage super heavy lift launch vehicle under development by the aerospace company SpaceX. It is currently the largest and most powerful rocket ever flown.[3] Starship is intended to be fully reusable, which means both stages will be recovered after a mission and reused.

Quick facts: Function, Manufacturer, Country of origin, Pr...
Starship prototype in launch configuration: Starship spacecraft sits on top of Super Heavy.
Country of origin
  • United States
Project costat least US$5 billion[lower-alpha 1][1]
Height121 m (397 ft)
Diameter9 m (30 ft)
Mass5,000 t (11,000,000 lb)
Payload to LEO
MassReusable: 100–150 t
(220,000–331,000 lb)
Volume1,000 m3 (35,000 cu ft)
Associated rockets
Derivative workStarship HLS
Launch history
StatusIn development
Launch sitesSpaceX Starbase
Kennedy Space Center, LC-39A (planned)
Total launches2
Failure(s)2 (IFT-1, IFT-2)
First flight20 April 2023
Last flight18 November 2023
First stage – Super Heavy
Height71 m (233 ft)
Diameter9 m (30 ft)
Empty mass200 t (441,000 lb)
Gross mass3,600 t (7,937,000 lb)
Propellant mass3,400 t (7,496,000 lb)
Powered by33 Raptor engines
Maximum thrust7,590 tf (74,400 kN; 16,700,000 lbf)
Specific impulse327 s (3.21 km/s) (sea-level)
PropellantLiquid oxygen / Methane
Second stage – Starship
Height50 m (160 ft)
Diameter9 m (30 ft)
Empty mass~100 t (220,000 lb)[2]
Gross mass1,300 t (2,866,000 lb)[lower-alpha 2]
Propellant mass1,200 t (2,646,000 lb)
Powered by3 Raptor engines
3 Raptor vacuum engines
Maximum thrust1,500 tf (14,700 kN; 3,310,000 lbf)
Specific impulse327 s (3.21 km/s) (sea-level)
380 s (3.7 km/s) (vacuum)
PropellantLiquid oxygen / Methane

The Starship launch vehicle is designed to supplant SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, expand SpaceX's Starlink satellite constellation, and launch crews to both low Earth orbit and Mars. The vehicle is fundamental to SpaceX's ambition of colonizing Mars.[4] SpaceX plans to use Starship vehicles as tankers, refueling other Starships to allow missions to geosynchronous orbit, the Moon, and Mars. A planned lunar lander variant of Starship was contracted by NASA to land astronauts on the Moon as part of the Artemis program by 2025, later delayed to September 2026.[5]

Starship consists of the Super Heavy booster and the Starship spacecraft, which are both powered by Raptor engines, which burn liquid methane and liquid oxygen. Both stages are constructed primarily of stainless steel, instead of the carbon composite used in a series of prior designs. The booster is designed to use its engines to slow itself down, before being caught by a pair of mechanical arms attached to the launch tower. The Starship spacecraft is designed to be protected during atmospheric reentry by its thermal protection system, using a 'belly flop' maneuver where the spacecraft turns from a horizontal to a vertical position from which it lands using its engines.

SpaceX has stated that a long-term goal for the Starship system is to achieve frequent space launches at low cost.[6] Development follows an iterative and incremental approach involving test flights of prototype vehicles which are often destructive.[7] The first flight test of the full Starship system took place on 20 April 2023, lifting-off with three engines out and ending four minutes after launch due to a loss of control,[8] resulting in the destruction of the launch vehicle. The second flight test of the vehicle took place on 18 November 2023, achieving stage separation with the Super Heavy booster exploding roughly 30 seconds later following multiple engine failures during its boostback burn. The upper stage was lost nearly eight minutes after launch prior to reaching orbit.[9]

The development of Starship has resulted in several lawsuits against the FAA and SpaceX from environmental groups.[10][11] Some conservationists have expressed concern over the impact of Starship's development in Boca Chica, Texas on species like the critically endangered Kemp's ridley sea-turtle,[10] nearby wildlife habitats[12] and national-refuge land.[13]

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