With Starship ferrying humans to Mars, SpaceX plans to launch its next big test this month. The company successfully launched a Starship upper stage prototype (SN15) last May to a height of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) and landed it intact. The next flight will launch the next-generation upper stage (SN20) atop a massive rocket known as Super Heavy to a minimum orbital altitude of 160 kilometers (100 miles).


SpaceX said per Daily Mail that Starship is a combination of the Super Heavy and the upper stage, with the upper stage being the only part tested thus far.

The prototype of the Super Heavy Booster BN4 is now being manufactured, and once completed, it will be relocated to the launch pad, where a large orbital launch tower is being built.

Last Monday, the tower's seventh piece was lifted into place, and final construction is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

SpaceX To Launch First Heavy Lift Rocket In Demonstration Mission
(Photo: Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Image)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - FEBRUARY 05: The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket sits on launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center as it is preparing for lift-off on February 5, 2018, in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

SpaceX Starship SN20: Specs, Launching Date

The booster-spacecraft combination will be massive. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, tweeted two photographs of the Super Heavy standing at the Starbase test site in Boca Chica, Texas, on July 1. The booster alone stands about 230 feet (70 meters), or about the same height as the Statue of Liberty. The entire stack will stand about 400 feet (120 meters) tall once the 150-foot-tall top stage is mounted, making it the largest rocket ever designed to go to space.

"Will look pretty wild with a ship on top," Musk tweeted about the booster.

According to local witness BocaChicaGal, the final piece of the Super Heavy launch tower landed at Starbase on Monday.

It will take a lot of thrusting strength to lift this giant off the ground. SpaceX aims to place 32 or 33 Raptor engines at the bottom of Super Heavy to deliver up to 230 tons of thrusting power; Musk tweeted on Sunday. Only three Raptor engines were employed in prior Starship prototypes used for high-altitude tests.

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SpaceX hopes to make both the rocket and the upper stage totally reusable in the future. However, the earliest experiments will concentrate on achieving orbital altitude.

The Super Heavy-SN20 combination would blast off from Starbase and soar toward Earth's orbit in one piece, according to SpaceX's flight plan submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration. The launcher would then loop around and land in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Boca Chica, while the upper stage would orbit for a short time before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.

SpaceX Starship SN20: Launch Date Later This Month

Elon Musk said he'd be pleased to have Starship placed on top of the Super Heavy by the end of the month, with a launch the following month. SpaceX had hoped to launch this month.

Starship will make a powered, planned landing 60 miles off the coast of Hawaii in the next test after being launched into orbit.

"'The Starship Orbital test flight will originate from Starbase,' the home of SpaceX in Boca Chica, Texas, then the booster stage will separate 170 seconds into the flight," FCC filing explains.

According to the petition, the Booster will then make a partial return and land 20 miles off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Orbital Starship will fly between the Florida Straits, according to the petition.

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