SpaceX stacks giant Starship rocket ahead of 2nd test flight | Space


SpaceX’s giant Starship rocket is ready for its second-ever test flight.

SpaceX stacked its latest Starship vehicle on Tuesday (Sept. 5), lifting the Ship 25 upper-stage prototype onto the Booster 9 “Super Heavy” first stage at the company’s Starbase site in South Texas.

The work represents a major milestone ahead of an impending test flight, which SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk says can happen whenever the required regulatory boxes get checked.

“Starship is ready to launch, awaiting FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] license approval,” Musk wrote Tuesday in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) that included a 40-second video capturing highlights of the stacking process.

RelatedRelive SpaceX’s explosive 1st Starship test in incredible launch photos

SpaceX stacks its Ship 25 upper-stage prototype atop the Booster 9 first stage at Starbase on Sept. 5, 2023. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Starship, the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built, is still in development. SpaceX envisions the fully reusable vehicle eventually taking over pretty much all of its spaceflight duties, from launching satellites to Earth orbit to sending people to the moon and Mars.

A fully stacked Starship has flown just once to date — in April of this year, on a test flight from Starbase that aimed to send the upper stage partway around Earth, with a planned splashdown in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.

That vehicle suffered several problems shortly after launch, however, including the failure of its first and second stages to separate. As a result, SpaceX beamed up a self-destruct command, detonating the craft high above the Gulf of Mexico four minutes after liftoff.

SpaceX has made a number of changes to this second Starship vehicle. Perhaps the most prominent is the switch to a “hot staging” strategy, in which the upper stage lights its engines before it has fully separated from the first-stage booster. That switch required modifications to Booster 9, including the installation of a heat…

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