Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, talked about the next-generation rocket Starship yesterday evening. As it has progressed from the drawing board to a series of towering prototypes at the company’s Texas factory.
SpaceX is working on a gigantic next-generation rocket called Starship. It will be used to launch freight and people on missions to the moon and Mars. The rocket will be launched on top of a Super Heavy booster, both of which will be fueled by SpaceX’s new Raptor engines.
SpaceX started working on the Starship in earnest more than two years ago. When it started building prototypes in both Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Boca Chica, Texas. Later, the company shifted its focus to the Boca Chica site, dubbed “Starbase”. And has since conducted Starship manufacturing, tests, and flights from that location.
The business has been working toward its next significant step in development: reaching space, since the successful launch and landing of Starship SN15 during a high-altitude flight test in May. Originally, SpaceX planned to fly the first Starship orbital flight test in summer 2021. However, they postponed the date.
According to Musk, a “crisis” in Raptor engine development late last year led to the departure of key SpaceX executives owing to “serious” issues, and a “crisis” in Raptor engine development led to the departure of key SpaceX executives due to “severe” problems.
The orbital flight test is also subject to regulatory approval. As the launch requires a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration. By Feb 28, the FAA could finish a major environmental evaluation. It has to finish with the conclusion either approving SpaceX’s launch of Starship to orbit or delaying it for a more in-depth review — potentially delaying launches from Boca Chica by months or perhaps years.
Musk has previously stated that while he is not optimistic that Starship would reach orbit on its first attempt. He is “confident” that the rocket will reach orbit in 2022.
In December, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk also announced that the business had resumed building a Starship launchpad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, giving the rocket another launch option.
SpaceX contract with NASA
SpaceX has raised billions of dollars in funding for both Starship and its satellite internet project Starlink. In recent years, the company’s valuation recently reached $100 billion.
NASA also awarded the business a $2.9 billion contract to use Starship. This is to send astronauts to the moon by 2025 as part of the agency’s Artemis program. SpaceX won the contract over teams led by Jeff Bezos‘ Blue Origin and Leidos subsidiary Dynetics. And NASA has begun paying it out after a long hiatus caused by concerns from other competitors and a lawsuit by Blue Origin. So far, SpaceX has received $398 million.