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SpaceX Starship absolutely stacked is a “dream”

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SpaceX stacks Starship Prototype 20 on Super Heavy Rocket Booster 4 on August 6, 2021.

@elonmusk on Twitter

Elon Musk’s SpaceX first stacked a Starship prototype rocket on top of a Super Heavy rocket booster Friday morning and gave a glimpse of the size of the combined nearly 400 foot tall vehicle.

When asked by CNBC what he thought of witnessing the milestone at the company’s Boca Chica, Texas facility, Musk simply replied.

“A dream comes true,” Musk replied in a tweet.

SpaceX is developing Starship to launch cargo and humans on missions to the moon and Mars. Spaceship prototypes are about 160 feet tall, or about the size of a 16-story building, and are made of stainless steel – they represent the early version of the rocket that Musk unveiled in 2019.

The missile takes off on a Super Heavy Booster, which forms the lower half of the missile and is about 70 meters high. Together, Starship and Super Heavy are nearly 400 feet tall when stacked for launch.

SpaceX launches Super Heavy Booster 4 in preparation for the company’s first orbital Starship launch.

Elon Musk

SpaceX conducted several short test flights of Starship prototypes over the past year, but reaching orbit is the next step in testing the rocket. The company announced its plan in May for the first orbital flight to take off from the company’s Texas facility and land off the coast of Hawaii.

Work to do

A SpaceX crane lifts the Starship prototype 20 onto the super heavy rocket Booster 4 during batch operation on August 6, 2021.

@elonmusk on Twitter

Musk outlined four “major elements” SpaceX plans to complete over the next two weeks as it prepares Starship 20 for launch.

He said SpaceX needed to add the “final heat shield tiles” to the ship, add “thermal protection” to the Raptor rocket engines in Booster 4, complete work on “ground fuel storage tanks,” and add a quick-release arm to the top of the newly built launch tower. The quick release arm connects the power and fuel lines to the missile prior to launch.

While SpaceX’s fleet of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets are partially reusable, Musk’s goal is to make Starship fully reusable – a rocket more like an airliner, with short turnaround times between flights, so the only major cost is the Are fuel.

SpaceX stacks Starship Prototype 20 on Super Heavy Rocket Booster 4 on August 6, 2021.

@elonmusk on Twitter

An important element in making Starship fully reusable is improving its durability in order to survive the intense process of re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. Small hexagonal heat shield tiles are SpaceX’s answer to this problem, with the previously shiny Starship 20 rocket now covered in thousands of tiles.

Musk noted that the work on the tiles for Starship 20 is “98% done” because “the remaining tiles are unique shapes that require editing.”

NASA watch out

A SpaceX crane prepares to lift the Starship prototype 20 onto the Booster 4 super heavy rocket during batch operation on August 6, 2021.

@elonmusk on Twitter

NASA has paid close attention to the development of Starship, especially as the US space agency SpaceX awarded a controversial $ 2.9 billion contract earlier this year to bring astronauts to the lunar surface with the rockets.

NASA’s senior science missions officer Thomas Zurbuchen told CNBC that he continues to monitor Starship’s progress.

“Yeah, I’ve been following this all along and I’m looking forward to @SpaceX reaching this milestone! Can’t wait to see it fly!” Zurbuchen wrote in a tweet.

Musk responded to booking in another tweet touting Starship’s predicted capabilities.

“With its size and ability to bring scientific instruments back even from space, Starship will enable a whole new class of scientific missions,” wrote Musk.

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