SpaceX Set to Launch Starship to Orbit: Elon Musk’s Ambitious Scheme to Reach Mars
In preparation for its historic first launch of the Starship mega-rocket, SpaceX, led by CEO Elon Musk, has commenced their mission to eventually create a human settlement on Mars. No definitive launch date has been set for the mission, but it will be the starting point for a comprehensive testing program, even though it may not drastically alter space travel and military operations right away.
On a call with Morgan Stanley on Tuesday, March 7, Musk said, “Hopefully in the next month or so we'll have our first [orbital launch] attempt,” adding that he believes there is an 80 per cent chance one of the multiple Starship rockets built by SpaceX will reach orbit this year. The private space firm is just waiting on a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Tesla CEO followed his statement with a tweet that read, “It won’t be boring!” Musk did, however, admit there is a 50 per cent chance that his $3 billion (£2.4 billion) Starship rocket could explode during its first orbital lift-off.
Part of the plan for a private space firm to send humans to Mars involves drastically reducing launch costs with a completely reusable megarocket, as proposed by Starship. The most powerful operational rocket in the world is set to reach the red planet, and before that, it will send humans to the moon for the first time since 1972.
SpaceX's Raptor engines, which use liquid methane and liquid oxygen as a more efficient, cost-effective propellant, power the rocket. Musk predicts Starship will open the door to more regular space travel, including NASA moon missions later this decade and future deep-space exploration. The firm additionally perceives a market for quick cargo delivery, both in terms of commercial and defense.
Elon Musk has forecast that the cost of a single Starship launch will plummet to an estimated $1 million within the next few years, down from the current estimated cost of $10 million. The cost for a launch of the smaller Falcon 9 rocket is approximately $62 million.
Beyond SpaceX, the success of Starship would have exciting implications for the space industry. If its launch goes according to plan, Starship will be the tallest rocket to have ever taken flight; despite its current model having less thrust than NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket (which is 322 feet tall). The SLS rocket launched towards the Moon in November.
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