STARSHIP. This Thursday, March 14, 2024, Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX successfully took off for the first time from Starship, its megarocket intended to bring astronauts to the Moon.

[Updated March 14, 2024 at 5:12 p.m.] After two attempts which ended in spectacular explosions last April and November, SpaceX’s giant rocket, the tallest and most powerful in the world, finally succeeded in its mission , joining orbit for the first time. After a successful takeoff at 2:25 p.m. French time this Thursday, March 14, 2024 from the SpaceX Starbase located in Boca Chica Village in Texas, on the east coast of the United States, the rocket this time successfully propelled its two stages and is managed to carry out a trajectory beyond the Kármán line, this abstract line which demarcates aeronautical space from astronautical space, 100 kilometers from the Earth’s surface.

SpaceX was pleased to have finally achieved a “controlled reentry” of its ship even though the signal was lost during the ship’s descent back to Earth when it was supposed to land in a controlled manner in the Indian Ocean. This third Starship test flight marks a turning point in the history of space conquest. Indeed, NASA is counting on Elon Musk’s Starship to land its astronauts on the Moon in 2026 during the Artemis III mission. It is therefore a success for Elon Musk who is already announcing “six more qualification flights this year” to prove that this rocket is capable of safely sending astronauts to our satellite. Relive Starship takeoff:

The Starship is a rocket developed by the company SpaceX which is composed of a launcher, the Super Heavy, topped with the Starship spacecraft. It is on board the latter that the astronauts of the Artemis 3 and Artemis 4 missions will land on lunar soil.

From a performance point of view, the Starship rocket is on track to become the most powerful ever used and thus dethrone NASA’s SLS launcher. The entire rocket has a total of thirty-three Raptor engines. The upper part, the Starship, is designed to be available in different versions depending on needs.

SpaceX’s Starship rocket is the largest and most powerful ever built. This rocket is made up of an extremely powerful launcher, the Super Heavy, capable of returning to land on Earth to serve again, topped by a Starship vessel which is also intended to be reusable. Its unrivaled power is achieved by thirty-three Raptor engines using liquid methane as fuel.

During liftoff, the first stage, called Super Heavy, propels the rocket into the sky. Once in the upper atmosphere, it detaches from the upper part, rotates on itself and returns to land on Earth, deploying its feet for a soft landing. For its part, the upper part, made up of the Starship, ignites its engines and continues its journey through space alone.

The Starship rocket measures a total of 120 meters high and 9 meters in diameter, making it the largest rocket ever built. It thus dethrones the Saturn V rocket which sent the first astronauts to the Moon during the Apollo missions. Its size is incommensurable with NASA’s SLS launcher which peaks at 98 meters in height once equipped with the Orion capsule. Only the Starship, that is to say the upper part of the rocket, measures 50 meters high and weighs 1,200 tonnes.

SpaceX has not released the total construction price of the Starship rocket, but we know the amount of the contract that was signed between Elon Musk’s company and NASA for the various Artemis missions that involve SpaceX. Thus, for Artemis 3, NASA paid 2.89 billion dollars. For Artemis 4 and the new version of the Starship, the contract is worth $1.15 billion.

Furthermore, the company SpaceX has revealed the prices it hopes to be able to offer for its Starship rocket launch services. Elon Musk plans to break the prices of the space economy by proposing a price of 2 million dollars per flight while the SLS costs 2 billion dollars.