SpaceX stacks Starship to gear up for launch rehearsal (photos)

SpaceX has stacked its latest Starship prototype once again.

The work — which took place at Starbase, the company’s facility on South Texas’ Gulf Coast — is part of the leadup to Starship’s second-ever test flight, which SpaceX hopes to launch soon.

“Starship fully stacked while team prepares for a launch rehearsal. We continue to work with the FAA on a launch license,” SpaceX wrote Monday in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter), which also featured dazzling photos of the stacking activity.

Related: Relive SpaceX’s explosive 1st Starship test in incredible launch photos

The FAA is the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which recently wrapped up its investigation of Starship’s first-ever test flight, which occurred on April 20. 

That flight aimed to send Starship’s upper-stage spacecraft — known, somewhat confusingly, as Starship — partway around Earth, with splashdown targeted for the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. But the vehicle suffered several problems shortly after liftoff, including the failure of its two stages to separate, and SpaceX destroyed it intentionally over the Gulf of Mexico.

Elon Musk has said that the latest Starship vehicle is ready to go from a technical standpoint; SpaceX has successfully test-fired the Raptor engines on both of its stages, for example. (The giant first-stage booster is called Super Heavy.) 

But, as the above post on X notes, the company is still waiting for a launch license from the FAA.


 —  Starship and Super Heavy: SpaceX’s Mars-colonizing transportation system

 —  Elon Musk says SpaceX could launch a Starship to the moon ‘probably sooner’ than 2024: report

 — SpaceX fires up giant Starship booster for 2nd time ahead of test flight (video)

Starship stands nearly 400 feet tall (122 meters) when fully stacked. It’s the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built, boasting significantly more thrust at liftoff than NASA’s iconic Saturn V moon rocket.

Both of Starship’s elements are designed to be fully and rapidly reusable, which Musk believes is the key breakthrough needed to make Mars settlement economically feasible.

SpaceX has stacked this particular Starship vehicle on Starbase’s orbital launch mount before. Indeed, the company did so just last month.


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