How to proceed now with the “Starship” missile system
The largest rocket system ever built was to be launched into space for the first time almost four weeks ago. However, Elon Musk’s “Starship” exploded after a few minutes. Now there are first investigations. Environmentalists complain about shortcomings.
Mith a lot of smoke and fire, the largest rocket system ever built in the history of space travel was launched in mid-April – and exploded and shattered four minutes later. Billionaire Elon Musk, whose aerospace company SpaceX developed and built the “Starship” rocket system, saw it not as a setback, but as an “exciting test launch”.
“We learned a lot for the next test start in a few months,” Musk commented immediately after the test on the short message service Twitter, which he also owns. Also by Nasa and space experts worldwide, including the German astronauts Alexander Gerst and Matthew Maurercongratulations came.
Musk and his company SpaceX now want to move on as soon as possible. The unmanned test launch was not “a complete success, but it was still successful,” Musk said recently in a Twitter discussion. “The result was about what I expected and maybe even exceeded my expectations a little.” Musk announced that the next test could take place in about six to eight weeks.
However, this would only be possible with the consent of the US Federal Aviation Administration FAA – and is still investigating what exactly happened during the first test. And what was the impact on the area surrounding the test site near Brownsville in the south of the US state of Texas. Such an examination is routinely required, but this time it is being demanded with particular force. A group of environmental groups has even sued the FAA for not investigating possible environmental damage from Starship launches.
The force of the “Raptor” engines, which are fueled by liquid methane and liquid oxygen and power the rocket, destroyed the concrete of the launch pad and triggered a “rock tornado” and a gigantic cloud of dust that spread debris over hundreds of square kilometers. it was said. Musk said it was a “man-made sandstorm” – but defended the incident as harmless: “The debris is actually just sand and stone, so not at all poisonous or anything.” Environmentalists see it differently – and Musk promised: “We want that don’t do it again.”
The “Starship” – consisting of the almost 70-meter-long “Super Heavy” booster and the approximately 50-meter-long upper stage, also called “Starship” – is intended to enable manned missions to the moon and Mars. Actually, the first test should have lasted a good 90 minutes in total and should have ended with the appearance of both rocket stages in the sea. The “Starship” system is designed in such a way that the spaceship and rocket can be reused after returning to earth. The system, which is around 120 meters long in total, should be able to transport well over 100 tons of cargo in the future. With the “Starship” NASA wants to bring astronauts to the moon. SpaceX hopes to one day get to Mars.
Until then, however, it could still be a while, says Musk, who says he is investing “around two billion dollars” in “Starship” via SpaceX this year alone and, according to media reports, the former head of NASA’s manned space program, Kathy Lueders, hired for this.
Musk sees a successfully completed test launch within reach. “We probably have about an 80 percent chance of reaching orbit by the end of this year. I don’t want to tempt fate, but for the next twelve months I see the chance at almost 100 percent.”
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