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Space Exploration Technologies Corp Shows the Next Generation Starship Rocket

Space Exploration Technologies Corp on Thursday unveiled in filings to the Federal Communications Commission its plan for the next step in testing its massive Starship rocket. The flight would splashdown off the coast of Hawaii. The company is also developing starships to take people from Earth to Mars.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp has conducted multiple test flights of Starship prototypes over the past year but the plans outline the company’s first attempt to reach orbit with the rocket. The Starship prototypes stand at about 160 feet tall, or around the size of a 16-story building, and are built of stainless steel which represents the early version of the rocket that Musk unveiled in 2019.

The rocket launches on a Super Heavy booster, which makes up the bottom half of the rocket and stands about 230 feet tall. Starship and Super Heavy are nearly 400 feet tall when stacked for the launch.The company’s Federal Communications Commission filings say that it will launch a Starship rocket atop a Super Heavy booster from Space Exploration Technologies Corp development facility in Boca Chica, Texas. The booster will separate, to partially return and land in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 20 miles from the shore.

The Orbital Starship will continue flying between the Florida Straits. It will achieve orbit until performing a powered, targeted landing approximately 62 miles off the northwest coast of Kauai in a soft ocean landing. The orbital flight would last just over 90 minutes. SpaceX is working in coordination with the FCC, U.S. Air Force, NASA and the FAA for the flight. While the timing of the flight is to be announced, Musk two months ago said SpaceX’s goal is to launch the orbital mission by July.

Elon Musk told SpaceX employees that progress on Starship needed to accelerate dramatically and immediately calling it the company’s top priority. The program has moved at a rapid pace, with a steady stream of production, testing and flights. SpaceX successfully landed and recovered the Starship prototype SN15. It was the fifth high-altitude flight test of the rocket, and the first that ended without the prototype exploding. Last month, NASA awarded SpaceX a nearly $3 billion contract to build a lunar variation of Starship to carry astronauts to the moon’s surface for the agency’s Artemis missions.

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