Liftoff Time (UTC):
April 20, 2023 - 13:33 (+00:00)
April 20, 2023 - 13:33 (+00:00)
13:28:00 - 14:30:00
Orbital Launch Mount A
SpaceX Space Launch Facility
Maiden flight of the two-stage Starship launch vehicle. The booster will separate 170 seconds into flight and return to land approximately 32 km off the shore in the Gulf of Mexico. The second stage will achieve orbit until performing a powered, targeted splashdown approximately 100 km off the northwest coast of Kauai (Hawaii).
The primary goal of this flight test is to demonstrate the capabilities of the first fully integrated Starship and Super Heavy rocket. This test will validate the vehicle's design, performance, and operation through all phases of flight including liftoff, Max-Q, staging, first RVac ignition in space, booster splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico, and finally Ship entry & splashdown off the coast of Hawaii. The successful completion of this flight test will pave the way for future manned and unmanned missions to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
The SpaceX launch team, located in the Stargate building at the Starbase build site, will gather data on the vehicle's flight characteristics and performance during the ascent and descent phases of the flight. This data will help the SpaceX team better understand how the vehicle operates under different conditions and inform future design decisions. Additionally, the test will provide valuable information about the performance of the various subsystems and components of the integrated vehicle, including propulsion, avionics, communication, thermal protection, and other critical systems.
The test will also evaluate the launch and ground support infrastructure (Stage Zero), including the launch pad, launch and catch tower, and ground control systems. This will help the SpaceX team identify any areas for improvement and optimize the launch operations to ensure the safety and success of future missions.
Finally, the test will inform and improve the probability of success in the future as SpaceX rapidly advances development of Starship. By learning from the data and experience gained during this flight test, the SpaceX team can make informed decisions and implement improvements to increase the reliability and performance of the vehicle and systems.
If you are heading down to Starbase for the historic mission, here is what you need to know - what to do, what not do, and more.
When you’re heading out to see Starbase, it is important you check road closures and respect that you are visiting an active launch facility, here’s some key information and links to help you stay in the loop and not trespass onto SpaceX property.
Firstly, road closures – SpaceX use road closures to keep the public safe during hazardous operations, including testing and lifting operations. But, there are 2 types of road closures: testing closures, and rolling closures. With testing closures, no one (including SpaceX officials) are allowed past the Sheriff checkpoint. However, with rolling closures - of which we do not anticipate any leading up to the flight, you can drive behind the Self Propelled Modular Transporter (SPMT) as it carries the vehicl;e to its destination. You can find a list of road closures on the Cameron County website here.
Starbase is a particularly public launch facility as it is positioned along a state highway - Highway 4. With this comes a lot of confusion with where you can and can not go at the facility. A general rule of thumb is to stay on the opposite side of the road from Starbase. The only exception to this is the dunes which allow you to get ridiculously close to Starship, and Boca Chica Beach, we will explain more about those areas below.
With the dunes, you are able to get closer than ever before to the fully stacked Starship rocket with an uninterrupted view from the back of the launch site. But, be sure to watch out for posts in the ground indicating the start of SpaceX’s property line. However, these are lightly marked and may not be easy to spot, so we recommend you don’t travel too close to the pad. Please also note that the sand dunes can be not only hazardous to drive on, but also extremely busy, particularly as a launch date is on the horizon.
Boca Chica Beach offers a great view of not only Starship, but also the beautiful coast. If you chose to walk down the beach, we suggest you park your vehicle at the side of the road and walk to the beach.
We’ve made it to launch day, the vehicle is ready to go, license in hand, all hazard zones in place – where can you watch from, and what does launch day look like?
On launch day, we recommend watching from South Padre Island (~5mi from the pad) or Port Isabel which is similarly distanced. This is about as close as you can get to the vehicle without being in Mission Control. Regardless of whether you are 5 or 10mi from the launch site, you are guaranteed excitement at T-8s when the 33 Raptor engines ignite on Booster 7, and liftoff occurs at T-0. Bear in mind that sound takes time to travel and as such you will see the launch before you hear the sound of the monstrous Raptor engines.
On launch day – we expect village evacuation to occur the night before to allow for an early morning launch window, and the road can be closed as early as midnight local time (NET L-7 hours). The SpaceX Flight Director (FD) will poll the launch team stationed in the Stargate building. Approximately 21 minutes following a “GO” from the team, the propellant loading sequence begins. You can find a list of events in the Timeline tab.
REMINDER: This is a test flight, and a loss of vehicle is a possible outcome. If the vehicle experiences an anomaly, the SpaceX Range Officer (RO) will terminate the flight to ensure public safety, however, a shockwave is possible following the termination. You should discuss with whom you are attending the launch with on what your plan is for the case of an anomaly in first stage flight.
TLP live coverage of the historic first launch of a fully integrated Starship/Super-Heavy rocket will begin at approximately 5:30am CDT (10:30am UTC). Our host team, Zac and Dakota, are on location and will be taking questions throughout the broadcast.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the nature of this test flight, times are highly subject to change and our coverage start times may vary accordingly. Stay tuned to our social media for updates.
Gulf of Mexico (GOM)
Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX is an American aerospace company providing cheap and reliable launch services as well as ferrying crew and cargo to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew and Commercial Resupply Services program.
Starship is a 2 stage multi purpose spacecraft, designed and developed by SpaceX for complete reusability and the transport of a vast array of cargo including personnel, both in space and point to point here on earth.
Starship is made up of the spacecraft and a Super Heavy Booster, Starship has a total length of 120m (394 ft) and a diameter of 9m (29.5 ft) with a total reusable payload capacity of 100-150t.
Credit: SpaceX // Booster 7, S24 stacked on OLM
Stage Zero - Also known as the launch pad - in the case of Starship this is a specially constructed launch complex known as Starbase located in Cameron county, Texas off the Gulf of Mexico, Starbase is one of the first commercial spaceports designed for orbital missions.
Featuring the world's tallest rocket launch and catch tower at 480 ft high, Starbase also has many other features such as personnel dining and living, wildlife conservation and manufacturing facilities.
The first stage of Starship is the Super Heavy booster; this is the lower section of the rocket designed to provide the thrust needed for the starship spacecraft and its payloads to breach the earth's atmosphere and carry out its objectives.
The booster has a total length of 69m (226ft) and a diameter of 9m (29.5ft), Super Heavy is comprised of 33 Raptor engines with 13 in the center and the remaining 20 around the perimeter of the booster’s aft end, using sub-cooled liquid methane (CH4) and liquid oxygen (LOX). Super Heavy is capable of storing up to 3,400t of propellant resulting in a maximum thrust of 74,432kN.
Credit: Zac Aubert | The Launch Pad
The second stage of Starship is the Starship spacecraft itself, providing additional thrust after the release of the Super Heavy Booster, Starship will carry crew and payloads on both lander and orbital missions, with Starship capable of orbital refuelling this enables the transport of up to 100t of payload all the way to mars.
The Booster has a length of 50m (164ft) and a diameter of 9m (29.5ft),Powered by 3 Raptor Sea Level engines and 3 Raptor Vacuum engines (Rvac) it has a propellant capacity of 1,200t and a maximum thrust of 14709kN resulting in a final payload capacity of 100-150t.
The Raptor 2 Vacuum engine, or RVac2 for short, is similar in design to the Raptor engine but features a larger exhaust section and a larger expansion nozzle to maximize the engine’s efficiency in space. The second stage of Starship will contain 3 of these engines. Each has a height of 4.6m, a diameter of 2.3m and a total thrust of around 2530 kN. Raptor 2 Vac will only see a few flights due to its replacement by the Raptor 3 Vac.
The Raptor 2 engine is a reusable methane-oxygen staged-combustion engine that powers the Starship rocket. It's an upgrade to the Raptor 1 and 1.5. The first stage of Starship (Super Heavy) contains 33 engines whereas the second only has 3. Each Raptor 2 engine has a height of 3.1m, a diameter of 1.3m and a total thrust of over 2255 kN. Raptor 2 will only see a few flights due to its replacement by the Raptor 3.
Orbital Launch Mount A
SpaceX Space Launch Facility, TX, USA