SpaceX rolls giant Starship rocket to launch pad ahead of 3rd test flight (photos)

SpaceX continues to gear up for the third test flight of its giant Starship rocket and the private spaceflight company has some amazing photos to prove it.

The company rolled the two stages of its latest Starship rocket to the launch pad at Starbase, its site on South Texas’ Gulf Coast, over the weekend.

SpaceX documented the milestone publicly, sharing three photos of the move in a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday (Feb. 10).

SpaceX then stacked the two elements — the huge Super Heavy booster and the 165-foot-tall (50 meters) Starship upper stage — atop Starbase’s orbital launch mount on Saturday night (Feb. 10), as NASASpaceflight.com noted.

Such work is part of the prep for Starship’s third test flight, which SpaceX aims to launch in the coming weeks, provided a license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) comes through in time.

It’s unclear when SpaceX will get that license, however. The FAA is still investigating what happened on Starship’s second flight, which lifted off from Starbase last November. Starship flew well on that mission, notching milestones such as a nominal Super Heavy engine burn and successful stage separation. But both Starship and Super Heavy ended up exploding, and the flight ended just eight minutes after launch.

The first Starship flight, which launched last April, ended with the destruction of a tumbling Starship four minutes after liftoff. That vehicle experienced some problems with its first-stage burn, and its two stages failed to separate as planned. 

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Starship is designed to be fully and rapidly reusable, and it will be capable of delivering up to 150 tons of payload to low Earth orbit. SpaceX is developing the vehicle to expand humanity’s footprint out into the solar system — especially to the fourth rock from the sun.

“We are mapping out a game plan to get a million people to Mars. Civilization only passes the single-planet Great Filter when Mars can survive even if Earth supply ships stop coming,” SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said in an X post on Saturday.

Source: Space.com

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