SpaceX’s Starship is edging ever closer to being ready to fly into orbit for the first time. This week, the spacecraft was stacked on top of the enormous Super Heavy booster, with the prototype loaded into place for the first time.
This makes the stacked spacecraft the tallest rocket in the world at almost 400 feet high, according to space.com. It consists of the Starship SN20 prototype and the Super Heavy prototype Booster 4, with the two placed together ahead of the planned first orbital test flight for the complete vehicle.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk shared images of the fully stacked spacecraft on Twitter, following images he shared earlier this week of the Super Heavy booster being brought to the launchpad at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in South Texas.
Starship Fully Stacked pic.twitter.com/Fs88RNsmfH
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 6, 2021
When asked on Twitter how it felt to see the Starship finally come together for the first time, Musk said it was a “dream come true.”
Musk also revealed some details about what is next for the Starship, saying that the next phase of getting the ship ready to fly includes four main items:
– Final heat shield tiles for ship
– Thermal protection of booster engines
– Ground propellant storage tanks
– QD [quick disconnect] arm for ship
Musk estimated that the heat shield tiles are around 98% complete and that the remaining tasks would take around two weeks. Then the ship will be able to move to its first orbital test flight.
Many congratulated Musk and SpaceX on the achievement, including NASA’s Associate Administrator for its Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, who wrote, “I have been following this all along and am excited for @SpaceX achieving this milestone! Can’t wait to see it fly!”
In response, Musk said that he saw Starship as enabling a new class of science missions, as it is very large and capable of carrying much heavier loads than current-generation rockets. This includes near-future projects such as the upcoming NASA Artemis missions to the moon for which the Starship will be used, and further-future missions which could use the Starship to travel to Mars or other locations in the solar system.
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