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Massive Starship Megarocket Being Tested For A Third Launch By SpaceX

A crucial fuelling test has been successfully completed by SpaceX’s next Starship to fly, paving the way for the much awaited third attempt to launch the largest rocket in history.

During the most recent launch dress rehearsal, held at SpaceX’s Starbase facility near Boca Chica Beach in southern Texas, the shiny, stainless-steel Starship rocket and its Super Heavy booster—which together stand 400 feet tall (122 meters)—were filled with more than 10 million pounds of liquid methane and liquid oxygen propellant.

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, shared images from the fuelling test on X (previously Twitter) on March 4 along with the caption,”Starship Flight 3 preparing for launch,”In an independent X post, SpaceX released the breathtaking set of images from the fuelling test.

The world’s most potent rocket, SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy booster, is intended to be totally reusable and able to launch up to 165 tonnes (150 metric tonnes) into orbit. NASA has decided that Starship will be the Artemis 3 lunar lander, sending its next crew of astronauts to land on the moon in 2026. Prior to anything else, though, SpaceX needs to launch a Starship into a near-orbital orbit—something it was unable to accomplish on its first two test flights, which took place in November and April of 2023.

During a recent interview, Elon Musk said that SpaceX would launch its third Starship test flight as early as March. However, the business is currently waiting on an FAA licence.

The Starship Flight 2 test, which launched a Starship and Super Heavy rocket on November 18, was concluded by FAA officials last week. The Super Heavy booster exploded 3.5 minutes after takeoff, followed by the Starship vehicle itself eight minutes into the flight, both of which occurred at a maximum altitude of 91 miles (148 km). These explosions marked the end of that operation.

Prior to the next Starship launch, SpaceX needs to address 17 corrective actions that were found during the FAA inspection. Ten of the modifications are on the 50-meter (165-foot)-tall Starship spacecraft, and the remaining seven are on the Super Heavy booster.

SpaceX said in a statement on February 26 that one of the 33 Raptor engines “failed energetically” after stage separation, most likely as a result of a blocked filter in a liquid oxygen line, causing a cascade failure, which is why the Flight 2 Super Heavy booster detonated over the Gulf of Mexico.

“SpaceX has since implemented hardware changes inside future booster oxidizer tanks to improve propellant filtration capabilities and refined operations to increase reliability,” the company said in a statement.

In contrast, the flying 2 Starship vehicle most likely failed as a result of a leak in its aft portion that happened during a scheduled liquid oxygen venting. This leak caused a “combustion event and subsequent fires that led to a loss of communication between the spacecraft’s flight computers.”

“SpaceX has implemented hardware changes on upcoming Starship vehicles to improve leak reduction, fire protection, and refined operations associated with the propellant vent to increase reliability,” the company stated in a statement. “The previously planned move from a hydraulic steering system for the vehicle’s Raptor engines to an entirely electric system also removes potential sources of flammability.”

Early in February, SpaceX independently wheeled its Flight 3 Starship and Super Heavy rocket spacecraft out to the Starbase launch pad. On February 13, the corporation launched Starship in a stacked configuration atop the Super Heavy rocket.

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