STARSHIP. Warning: imminent takeoff! This Thursday, March 14, 2024, the launch of SpaceX’s Starship megarocket is scheduled. At what time and how can I follow the event live?

SpaceX, the space company of billionaire Elon Musk, is preparing to take off its Starship rocket for its third test flight, after two first unsuccessful attempts in 2023, which ended in explosions. Starship is the largest rocket in the world, with a total height of 121 meters by a diameter of 9 meters, and a weight of 5,000 tonnes.

Since the last takeoff on April 20, 2023, where the rocket exploded at an altitude of 30 kilometers after four minutes of flight and seriously damaged the launch pad, the megarocket has been revised and the flight protocol simplified. The megarocket should manage to complete a trajectory beyond the Karman line (100 km). before diving, if possible gently, into the Indian Ocean. Will this third test flight be successful?

The shooting window is currently scheduled for Thursday March 14, 2024 at 12:30 p.m. (Paris time). The flight can only be delayed by two hours, otherwise it will have to be rescheduled.

The launch of SpaceX’s megarocket takes place from Starbase, located in Boca Chica Village, Texas, on the east coast of the United States. This third Starship flight test is streamed live for free on Elon Musk’s company’s X account below and on the space company’s official website. The live video will open 30 minutes before the scheduled takeoff time.

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.