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SpaceX prepares Starship for first orbital test flight

SpaceX is preparing for the first orbital test flight of its massive Starship rocket, which could launch as early as next month.

The team at SpaceX has begun the preparations by ‘stacking’ the two different components that will make up the Starship together at the company’s Starbase launch facility in Texas.

Starship will consist of an upper-stage and a first-stage booster. The booster — known as Super Heavy Booster 7 — is 70 metres tall, 9 metres wide, and houses 33 of SpaceX’s Raptor engines. The second stage, known as Ship 24, which is 50 metres tall and carries six Raptor engines.

Both stages of the Starship rocket are designed to be reusable, with the team eventually planning to catch the rockets are its Texas Starbase.


The two components were stacked painstakingly by SpaceX’s massive ‘Mechazilla’ launch tower at the Starbase.

The chopstick arms, as they are known, of the Mechazilla launch tower lifted the Ship 24 atop the Super Heavy Booster 7 which was sitting on the orbital launch mount.

If all goes to plan, SpaceX eventually plans to use the Mechazilla launch tower to catch the Super Heavy Boosters when they return to Earth, allowing them to be reused.

This is the third time that Ship 24 has been mounted atop the Super Heavy Booster 7, with two earlier test runs conducted in October.


SpaceX has been preparing for the first full-scale orbital launch of its Starship for several years now. Having conducted a successful high-altitude test flight of a Starship prototype in May 2021, the company has continued to work towards unlocking the full operational capability of the spacecraft.

Things are now heating up, with the company targeting late February or early March for a launch date.

The company has taken both Ship 24 and the Super Heavy Booster 7 through several rigorous tests. Ship 24 has already fired all six of its Raptor engines simultaneously in a static fire test, while the Super Heavy Booster has fired just 14 of its 33 engines.

SpaceX Founder and CEO, Elon Musk, said that they are planning to perform further static tests, including a full 33-engine test of the Super Heavy Booster rocket.

Once all testing is complete and Starship is ready to fly, it will be poised to take back the title of the world’s most powerful rocket. NASA’s Space Launch System that launched Artemis I around the moon currently holds the title, but SpaceX is keen to reclaim the crown.


Liam McAneny

Liam McAneny

Liam McAneny is a journalist who has written and edited for his University International Relations journal. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (International Relations) and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Wollongong in 2021. He joined Momentum Media in 2022 and currently writes for SpaceConnect and Australian Aviation. Liam has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations as well as astronomy.

Send Liam an email at: [email protected]

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