Starship - Super Heavy is designed to carry cargo and people beyond Earth.
The first test flight of SpaceX's Starship - Super Heavy system is scheduled for Monday, April 17 at 8:00 am EDT, as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted today, Friday, April 14, the environmental license for launch the company. This will be the first test flight of a fully integrated rocket, a fully reusable transport system designed to carry crew and cargo to Earth orbit, carry cargo and astronauts to the Moon in NASA's Artemis program, and fly to Mars. The Starship S24 spacecraft and the Super Heavy B7 rocket, together, form the most powerful launch vehicle in the world, capable of carrying more than 100 tons into Earth orbit. It is expected that once launched, the Super Heavy and Starship will separate, then the Super Heavy will dive into the Gulf of Mexico, while Starship will enter fractional orbit. Shortly thereafter, the spacecraft will re-enter Earth's atmosphere and crash into the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. There was no official update from the FAA regulatory agency this week – until last night, when the license was finally issued.
On April 14, the FAA issued SpaceX a vehicle operator license to launch the Starship/Super Heavy from Boca Chica, Texas. After a comprehensive license evaluation process, the FAA determined that SpaceX met all requirements for safety, environment, policy, payload, airspace integration and financial responsibility. The license is valid for five years. The FAA is responsible for protecting the public during commercial space shuttle launch and re-entry operations. We carefully analyzed public safety risks during each stage of the mission and required SpaceX to mitigate those risks.
In addition, the FAA will implement several airspace integration measures designed to reduce the impact of the launch on commercial airline flights and other airspace users.
The FAA will use key mission “triggers” such as propellant loading and final booster rocket deployment to identify when to close and reopen airspace.
For the first time, the FAA will implement time-based procedures for a Boca Chica launch. This will identify and reroute only those aircraft directly affected by the closed airspace, allowing more aircraft to stay on their most optimized and efficient routes. Previously, it had only been used for launches from Florida's Space Coast. Both the Starship vehicle and the Super Heavy rocket will transmit telemetry data to the FAA via the Space Data Integrator tool. Data such as position, altitude, speed and any deviations from your expected flight path will provide the FAA with situational awareness and, in combination with other information, help reopen airspace more quickly.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
"SpaceX's Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket - collectively referred to as Starship - represent a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the moon, Mars and beyond," SpaceX says on its website. . “The Starship will be the most powerful launch vehicle in the world ever developed, with the capacity to carry up to 150 tons into Earth orbit and up to 250 tons expendable” – announced the company on its social networks and website.
In the launch zone, Starbase Texas, the rocket will take off from the firing platform, equipped with a circular support table measuring 23 meters in diameter, next to the launch and capture tower, 146 meters high, designed to support the integration, launch and capture of the 'booster' stage. For the first test flight, SpaceX teams will not attempt a vertical landing of the spacecraft in the ocean or a capture of the Super Heavy first stage on the platform itself.
The 120-meter-tall rocket will be the largest and most powerful when it lifts off from the private spaceport on the Texas Gulf Coast, exceeding the size and thrust of NASA's Saturn 5 and the Soviet Union's N1 launcher more than fifty years ago. It will also overtake NASA's Space Launch System (SLS), which launched the Artemis I test flight around the Moon in November. Thirty-three Raptor engines, burning cooled methane and liquid oxygen, will propel the rocket with more than 7,484,200 kgf of thrust at full power. If the rocket works as planned, Starship will blast into space for over an hour at nearly 8 kilometers per second before re-entering the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean and being destroyed in the crash with the sea off northern Hawaii.
The purpose of integrated flight testing is to collect data on the performance of the rocket, its engines, computers and ground systems, helping engineers design for future tests and eventually operational missions to put satellites into orbit and carry payloads into deep space. . SpaceX launched Starship prototypes on five low-altitude test flights in 2020 and 2021. On the final test flight in May 2021, Starship launched to an altitude of about 10 kilometers and then successfully demonstrated its landing maneuver , involving a flip from horizontal to vertical orientation using its Raptor engines before landing on its platform at the Texas compound. With the subscale test flights, SpaceX engineers turned their attention to building a new launch pad for the Super Heavy.
After leaving the launch pad, the Super Heavy and Starship will follow a trajectory east of Starbase over the Gulf of Mexico. The rocket will exceed the speed of sound and maximum downforce in less than a minute, when Starship will withstand the most stressful structural loads of its ascent into space. The Super Heavy thruster engines will shut down nearly three minutes after liftoff, allowing the stage to pull away from the Starship stage. Then the Raptor engines on the Starship will ignite, firing for the first time into a vacuum to begin a planned six-and-a-half-minute burn to accelerate to close to orbital speed. Starship's orbit is expected to be elliptical with apogee in space and perigee within Earth's atmosphere.
After separating from the Starship the Super Heavy will reignite some of its engines to cancel its horizontal velocity for braking ignition ( boostback ). Falling toward the Gulf of Mexico, the rocket will be timed to ignite a subset of its engines again just before hitting the sea to slow down in a controlled fall. The Starship vehicle will fly over the Straits of Florida, the Atlantic Ocean, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Indonesia and the Pacific before re-entering the atmosphere north of Hawaii. SpaceX hopes to collect data during re-entry, but the mission profile published by the company does not indicate that the vehicle will ignite its engines to slow down before impact in the Pacific.
The company has been testing the system for years
To date, the SpaceX team has completed multiple low-altitude atmospheric flight tests of the Starship upper stage, successfully demonstrating the unprecedented approach to controlled flight. These tests helped validate the vehicle's design, proving that the spacecraft can fly through the subsonic phase after re-entry before restarting its engines and turning to the vertical configuration for landing. In addition to the Starship upper stage test, the team performed several tests of the Super Heavy booster, which included the increasingly complex static tests that led to a test of thirty-one full-duration Raptor engines - the largest number of simultaneous ignitions of engines already done. The team also built the world's tallest rocket launch and capture tower.
Starship has had many launch delays, including a major setback last summer when the FAA determined there would be some environmental impact around the base. The entity announced last year that it required SpaceX to take more than 75 actions to reduce the environmental effects of flying its Starship rocket from south Texas. But not all mitigation steps would be required before the FAA would issue the commercial launch permit for the first orbital test flight – all that was left then was the final permit. According to the FAA's Plan of Operations, the launch is actually scheduled for April 17, with booking dates for each subsequent day through the 22nd. SpaceX said on social media that it was "working closely with the FAA" and that he hoped that the regulatory body would finally give the license.
In the midst of a series of fueling demonstrations ( wed dress rehearsals , full fueled rehearsals) of increasing complexity, SpaceX tested the six engines of the Ship 24 vehicle on September 1st. 8. In Jan. On November 23, SpaceX filled the rocket – with Ship 24 on top of Booster 7 – with a full charge of propellants for the first time.
Ground crews removed Ship 24 from the top of the Booster ahead of a test firing of thirty-one (in total there would be 33, but two failed to fire) Raptor engines in the Super Heavy booster on February 1st. The static fire test suite set a record for the most engines fired at once on a single vehicle and only revved the engines up to 50% power.
SpaceX took Ship 24 and Booster 7 back to the factory for final checks inside one of several warehouses about 3 kilometers from the launch pad. Meanwhile, crews reinforced the stainless steel armor of the launch pad (flat) to protect it from the heat of the first stage Raptor engines.
The timeline will depend on several factors, such as completion of final rocket checks, weather conditions and approval of a commercial launch permit.
All approximate times
hh: min:ss event
-02:00:00 SpaceX Flight Director conducts radio briefing and verifies approval for propellant supply -01:39:00 liquid oxygen (LOX) charge in progress in booster “B7” tanks -01:39:00 liquid methane fuel filled into ''booster'' tanks -01:22:00 spacecraft SN24 “S24” being fueled with liquid methane -01:17:00 spacecraft LOX fueling in progress -00:16:40 begins to Raptor V2 engine cooling (chilldown) in booster -00:00:40 fluid circuit starts venting/pressure relief -00:00:08 Raptor v2 engine ignition sequence starts, ignition system activated, turbopumps turning, gas generator running -00:00:00 launch
Best case scenario flight test timeline
According to SpaceX, "completion of marks is not required for a successful test," but each completed milestone will produce telemetry performance to verify the design and improve the system. All times are approximate.
00:00:55 Max Q (moment of maximum stress on the rocket) 00:02:49 cut of the 'booster' main engines 00:02:52 separation of the first stage 00:02:57 ignition of the 'Starship' engines 00 :03:11 booster ignition 00:04:06 booster shutdown 00:07:32 booster descends into atmosphere in transonic phase 00:07:40 booster landing ignition 00:08 :03 shutdown of 'booster' landing engines 00:09:20 shutdown of 'Starship' engine 01:17:21 atmospheric re-entry of 'Starship' 01:28:43 ship in transonic phase 01:30:00 crash in ocean of 'Starship'