SpaceX’s Starship and NASA’s SLS prepare for launch
That’s not to say we’re not nearing launch though. Starship is set to launch from SpaceX’s Starbase facility in South Texas. The company is preparing for lift-off, and it recently conducted a “static fire” engine test with both its first-stage Super Heavy booster, called Booster 7, and its Starship prototype, dubbed Ship 24. SpaceX fired up only one of Booster 7’s 33 engines on Tuesday, August 9, while Ship 24 ignited two of its six Raptor engines. While the company is making steady progress towards launch, there’s still a way to go before both are ready for lift-off.
Static fire test of two Raptor engines on Starship 24 https://t.co/NNpViztphI
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) ) August 10, 2022
Both Starship and Super Heavy are designed to be fully reusable, and they are powered by a total of 39 of SpaceX’s next-generation Raptor engines. The improved efficiency of Raptor 2 alongside the full reusability of the launch elements is set to greatly reduce launch and operational costs, which is one of the main factors that will allow Starship to eventually take humans to Mars.
NASA, which may launch its own Space Launch System (SLS) around the moon this month — it’s targeting an August 29 launch date — has opted to use Starship for its upcoming Artemis III moon landing mission. SLS isn’t reusable, and it will be used for Artemis I and II, each of which will travel around the moon before returning to Earth. With preparations well underway, we’re on the verge of two historic launches that will likely usher in a bold new era for spaceflight.