According to a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, SpaceX is preparing to launch a first starship orbital test flight into orbit, buoyed by the recent successful landing of SN15.
The reusable, two-stage super heavy lift launch vehicle (known simply as Starship) would launch from SpaceX’s South Texas launch facility Starbase on an as of yet undetermined date, according to the document’s details.
If everything goes according to plan, the Super Heavy rocket should separate three minutes into the flight and splash down in the Gulf of Mexico about 20 miles from land.
The document stated that the Starship rocket should continue on its course, travelling over the Straits of Florida before entering orbit and returning to Earth in “a soft ocean landing,” around 62 miles off the northwest coast of Kauai, Hawaii. The entire event, from ship splashdown to liftoff, should not last longer than 90 minutes.
SpaceX stated in its FCC filing that it planned to gather as much data as possible throughout the flight to quantify entrance dynamics and better understand what the rocket goes through in a flight regime that is exceedingly challenging to computationally anticipate or recreate.
This information will serve as a pillar for any modifications to the vehicle’s design or CONOPs (concept of operations) made after the initial flight and help create more accurate simulation models for internal use.
A fully reusable transportation system capable of transporting more than 100 tones of crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond is represented by the Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket.
This month’s first high-altitude test of a Starship prototype by SpaceX was successfully completed by SN15 from Star base in Texas without exploding in a ball of flames. The company website(Opens in a new window) states that the purpose of these Starship test flights is to advance the research and development of a totally reusable transportation system for lengthy interplanetary journeys.