Elon Musk is undeterred by the strong development of Chinese rockets

China has two breakthroughs in the aerospace industry in a row, and Elon Musk has his own revenge.

Have in hand the “trump card” Starship, Elon Musk is undeterred by the strong development of Chinese rockets.

SpaceX – the company that started the trend of recycling space travel rockets is preparing for a new launch. Elon Musk’s aerospace company will test Starship for the first time. It will carry out missions to deliver cargo to the Moon in the near future and carry humans to Mars in the far future.

Starship is 120m high, 9m in diameter, weighs 150 tons and is a descendant of the famous Falcon rocket series. In September 2017, Elon Musk announced the features of the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR). It’s still recyclable, but the BFR will be much more versatile when it comes to putting satellites into orbit. In addition, it can resupply the ISS space station, return astronauts to the Moon and will send humans to Mars.

Two colors clearly define the part of the Starship spacecraft and the part of the Super Heavy rocket booster

Structure of Starship

At the end of 2018, SpaceX renamed the BFR system. They called the booster below “Super Heavy”, and used the name “Starship” for the spaceship carrying cargo and astronauts. In recent months, SpaceX has been busy preparing for Starship’s first orbital test flight. With the participation of a Super Heavy rocket prototype called Booster 7 and a Starship model called Ship 24.

In early April, SpaceX brought both Booster 7 and Ship 24 to the Starbase launch pad located in Texas. They are preparing for the final work before testing the Starship.

Unlike previous tests that only tested the engine, this time SpaceX will put Starship into orbit. However, this is not the first time SpaceX has planned to make this bold plan.

In 2021, SpaceX submitted to the US Federal Communications Commission a specific plan. SpaceX claims the Starship will separate the booster part at 171 seconds after the system leaves the launch pad. The Booster 7 booster will return to the Earth’s surface after about eight minutes in the air. It will land on a ferry about 32 kilometers off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

As for the spacecraft part, it will travel in space for about 90 minutes and reach enough speed to fly to orbit before landing in the area off the island of Kauai (in Hawaii). It will land on a ferry located about 100 kilometers inland.

The purpose of this launch is to collect data on the flight and landing capabilities of the Starship, in order to improve the future spacecraft. According to information published in the journal Ars Technica, NASA will use a specialized survey aircraft WB-57 (can reach an altitude of 18 km) to observe the test flight of Starship.

NASA intends to use Starship for lunar missions in the near future, which is not surprising given that NASA closely follows SpaceX’s Starship development progress.

What is different about this flight?

In early February, SpaceX successfully performed a test with the Super Heavy rocket. At this point, 31 of the 33 Raptor engines are working as intended. SpaceX insists its engineers have gathered enough data to perform a launch.

Super Heavy will fly the Starship east, across the Gulf of Mexico.. This time, the booster part will not perform landing, when the test is intended to monitor the flight ability of the Starship. When it reaches the required altitude, Starship will perform a return to the Earth’s surface, landing on a ferry located off the island of Hawaii.

In this launch, SpaceX will not only face air resistance or the pull of Earth’s gravity, they will also have to deal with issues related to environmental protection laws.

A lot of creatures live near Starbase

Around the Starbase launch site is a natural park as well as a haven for many wildlife, launching a space shuttle at Starbase can affect the area’s ecology. Despite obtaining the license, it is possible that SpaceX still faces unfortunate risks or criticism from environmental experts.

But whatever obstacles are faced, SpaceX and NASA will certainly find a way to overcome to successfully test the Starship space shuttle system. SpaceX has invested more than $1 billion in the advanced system, and NASA plans to use Starship on future missions. The results of the test to put Starship into orbit will have a great influence on the decisions of the two companies, as well as Elon Musk’s ambitious future of settling on Mars.