Elon Musk SpaceX’s ‘world most powerful rocket’ Starship test flight on Saturday

SpaceX is set for another test flight of its giant rocket on Saturday, shifted from Friday, with the green light from regulators. The first flight in April ended up in an explosion.

A person looks on as SpaceX’s huge Super Heavy-Starship is unstacked from the booster as it sits on the launchpad at Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, on November 16, 2023, ahead of its second test flight posponed to November 18. (AFP)

SpaceX delayed the second launch of its cool Starship rocket by a day due to technical issues, said the space company’s chief executive Elon Musk.

“We need to replace a grid fin actuator, so launch is postponed to Saturday,” Musk posted on his social media site X.

What to expect during Starship test flight?

The test flight is slated to span 1.5 hours, falling shy of a complete Earth orbit.

The spacecraft will follow an eastward trajectory, traversing the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans before safely ditching near Hawaii.

What happened during Starship’s first test flight?

The first Starship test launch in April didn’t go fully as planned —it exploded over the Gulf of Mexico.

In the April test flight, Starship managed a successful liftoff from its Texas launchpad. However, it faced several engine failures during ascent, leading to a failure in the planned separation of rocket stages and an uncontrolled spin. Consequently, SpaceX opted for intentional destruction of the vehicle.

Elon Musk acknowledged a nearly minute-long delay in the activation of the flight termination.

What is the need of such heavy rocket – Starship?

Starship, termed as the largest and most potent rocket in existence, stands as a linchpin in Elon Musk’s aspirations to transport payloads and individuals to remote realms such as the Moon and Mars.

SpaceX’s Starship, comprising the Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket, forms a completely reusable transportation system crafted for up to 100 people and cargo transport up to 150 metric tonnes in a fully reusable mode and 250 metric tonnes when expended.

NASA has even signed a $3 billion contract to use the spacecraft to land astronauts on the lunar surface as early as 2025.

It can also be used to deploy SpaceX’s advanced Starlink satellites, aimed at amplifying the capacity of the satellite-based internet technology.

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