Elon Musk’s SpaceX will undertake the second flight test of its giant Starship and Super Heavy rocket Saturday, marking an important milestone for the private space company.
Earlier this year, SpaceX’s first test launch from Boca Chica, Texas, ended when the rocket exploded just minutes into its flight, or as SpaceX said, “experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly.”
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The largest rocket ever built, Starship is designed to play a key role in returning humans to the moon, as well as in future Mars exploration. The spacecraft and rocket, collectively referred to as “Starship,” are designed to carry both crew and cargo, and is capable of carrying up to 150 metric tonnes fully reusable and 250 metric tonnes expendable, according to SpaceX.
The 20-minute launch window for the second uncrewed flight test opens at 8 a.m. ET Saturday and can be viewed on the SpaceX website or the company’s account on X, formerly known as Twitter. “As is the case with all developmental testing, the schedule is dynamic and likely to change,” SpaceX said on its website, urging people to check its X account for updates.
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The second flight test has been pushed back from Friday to Saturday so that SpaceX can replace a grid fin actuator, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Space.com reports that grid fins are structures on Super Heavy’s first stage that help the booster steer back to Earth.
Companies such as SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance, set up in 2006 as a joint venture between Boeing Co.
and Lockheed Martin Corp.
are ramping up their launch efforts. United Launch Alliance plans to make the first launch of its new Vulcan rocket on Dec. 24.
The commercial space industry was worth $427.6 billion in 2022, an increase of 8% on the prior year, according to a July report from space-flight advocacy group the Space Foundation.
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SpaceX’s Starlink has also been attracting attention recently, with IPO spinoff talk swirling around the satellite-internet company. However, this week SpaceX CEO Musk apparently nixed the possibility that the private space company will spin off Starlink next year.
Musk, who is also the CEO of X, formerly known as Twitter, has been in the spotlight this week amid a maelstrom of controversial comments and the placement of IBM Corp. ads on the platform. IBM ads were positioned alongside pro-Hitler and pro-Nazi posts on the social platform, according to a report by the Financial Times. IBM suspended its advertising on the platform.
Additional reporting by Jon Swartz.