SpaceX has revolutionized rocket launch into space with reusable super heavy boosters. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 family of rockets is currently the cheapest platform per kilogram of payload.
However, if the company founded by Elon Musk succeeds in bringing the world’s most powerful Starship super rocket system into operation, it will significantly cut the cost of moving into Earth orbit, The Moon, Mars and beyond.
To make that happen, the South African-American billionaire needs a few more test launches.
After the second test launch of the Starship system on November 18 in Boca Chica, Texas, USA, billionaire Elon Musk announced that SpaceX’s Starship will be ready for a third test flight before Christmas 2023, Space.com information on November 21.
However, SpaceX still needs to obtain a launch license from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before launching.
How much does Elon Musk’s Starship program cost?
Starting from 2012, Elon Musk has estimated that The Starship program will cost between $5 billion and $10 billion to develop. In 2023 alone, SpaceX plans to pump about $2 billion into the rocket system in an effort to put Starship into orbit for the first time.
The first attempt in April 2023 ended after the rocket “unscheduled stage separation” over the Gulf of Mexico about four minutes after liftoff. A technical problem forced the launch team to activate the flight termination system, causing the Starship rocket-spaceship system to explode like a giant fireball in the air.
However, Starship’s first test flight achieved several important milestones, and SpaceX – as usual – learned valuable lessons even in failure.
Starship’s second test flight lasted more than 7 minutes. This time Starship flew farther and longer than the first test flight and it also achieved some successes such as separating the 2 rocket stages properly, burning all the fuel, touching the edge of space and not causing the launch pad (underground) to be engulfed in flames.
Thanks to this second test, Starship became the most powerful rocket in history.
Although Elon Musk is not completely confident that Starship will enter orbit in 2023, he believes that moment will occur in the first half of 2024.
“Revolutionizing” the space travel industry
SpaceX has pumped huge sums of money into developing the Starship rocket system. However, once operational, it could significantly cut the cost of space travel.
The cost of sending material and people into space today is significantly cheaper than it was at the start of the Cold War space race. However, expanding into orbital space travel remains extremely expensive.
Elon Musk’s Starship could change that if this billion-dollar program is successful and scales up.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket costs about $62 million and it carries a payload of about 25,000 kg into space.
That payload is about one-sixth of the Starship system’s potential maximum payload of 150 tons. Elon Musk estimates that the cost of each Starship launch within a few years will be only about 10 million USD. Currently, each Starship launch costs SpaceX 10 times that amount, which is about $100 million.
SpaceX, headquartered in Hawthorne, California, USA, has an ambitious dream of using Starship to send humans to Mars.
The company’s most important customer is NASA, which has awarded SpaceX contracts worth more than $4 billion to develop Starship to ferry astronauts and supplies to the Moon.
There are many more steps before SpaceX can prove that the spacecraft is safe for landing humans on the lunar surface.
Key milestones include completing Starship suborbital and orbital test flights without astronauts on board, as well as demonstrating that the spacecraft can refuel itself in Earth orbit (LEO) from other spacecraft.
Elon Musk still has a lot to do!
Source: Space, AS