SpaceX shares launch and landing plans for Super Heavy and Starship

Brad Wilsonby:

Technology

SpaceX has created a draft environmental assessment for its plans for the Super Heavy spacecraft and new Starship launches it plans to start in a test capacity in the coming months. 

Creating and deciding on the final version of the environment assessment plays a key role in launching both Super Heavy- SpaceX’s first stage for the high-capacity, a fully reusable launch system, and Starship, the second-stage spacecraft component of the said system.  

SpaceX is already working towards creating a prototype of the Starship in the air. If Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX is able to meet his potential timelines, the planned launches will take place in just 2-3 months. 

Not long ago, SpaceX completed StarHopper’s untethered “hop” low-altitude test flight. The StarHopper is a sub-scale manifestation version of the Starship design which is meant to aid in testing the craft’s Raptor engine. 

However, SpaceX must prove that it has entailed all the possible consequences and impact of its future launch operations on the surrounding environment. 

Super Heavy and Starship will launch from Florida, with its future plan to create a second launch mount at Kennedy Space Center at its present-day LC-39A launch pad. SpaceX leases the Kennedy Space Center from NASA and presently uses it for Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 launches.  

After launching from the LC_39A, SpaceX plans to make the Starship return to Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1), that it currently uses as a landing area for Falcon first-stage boosters at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. 

Just like the twin “Just Read The Instructions” and “Of Course I Still Love You” ships that are used by SpaceX now, the Super Heavy would land downrange with a drone barge ship, depending on the mission conditions on both its West and East coast launches. 

SpaceX envisions to be able to create a landing zone within the current confines of its LC-39A launch pad area, for planning to land the Starship back in close proximity to where it launches. But this will need an intensive study to determine the impact and viability of the launch, and that’s something SpaceX has left for future investigation. 

A SpaceX spokesperson said Launch Complex 39A, designed by NASA to assist the first human missions to the Moon, is one of the world’s most capable launch sites with a state-of-the-art infrastructure capable of supporting a wide array of mission profiles. 

As the Starship’s development is progressing, SpaceX is working with partners to amp up the infrastructure of LC-39A to build upon past achievements and promote future capabilities in space. 

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