Elon Musk unveils Starship rocket launch pad concept for Mars-bound craft

‘We will soon make these real,’ says SpaceX boss

Anthony Cuthbertson
Friday 10 December 2021 17:46
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<p>SpaceX plans an orbital launch of its Mars-bound rocket Starship in early 2022</p>

SpaceX plans an orbital launch of its Mars-bound rocket Starship in early 2022

SpaceX boss Elon Musk has shared concept images of what a multi-rocket launch site will look like for its Mars-bound Starship craft.

The next-generation rocket is set for its first orbital flight test early next year, which will see it launch from a new pad at the 39A complex at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, before touching down 90 minutes later off the coast of Hawaii.

SpaceX eventually hopes to mass manufacture hundreds of Starship rockets and use them to transport people and cargo around the Solar System.

This will require a quick turnaround for the reusable rockets, with multiple launches and landings from the same site for the boosters used to send the main craft into orbit.

“We will soon make these real,” Musk tweeted, revealing a concept image of what one of these launch sites might look like.

The private space firm plans to repurpose disused oil rigs into launch platforms for Starship, which Musk says will be “stationed around the world and in limited operation next year.

Starship is being developed initially for missions to the Moon, after SpaceX secured a multi-billion dollar deal to use the craft to return astronauts to the lunar surface through the Artemis program.

The Moon lander mission was initially set to take place in 2024, however Nasa and SpaceX were forced to put their collaboration for the project on hold earlier this year after Jeff Bezos’s space firm Blue Origin sued the US space agency for awarding the contract to its rival.

Blue Origin lost the lawsuit, with Musk previously mocking Bezos that its space ambitions are a long way behind those of SpaceX, as they are yet to even send a rocket to orbit.

By contrast, SpaceX recently broke its own record with the 27th successful rocket launch in 2021.

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Test launches of Starship prototypes have been less successful, having only managed to land one of the rockets following a high-altitude flight without it subsequently exploding.

SpaceX is reported to be planning to ramp up Starship launches to a rate of one every fortnight in 2022, with Musk calling on employees to make the rocket’s development the number one priority for the company.

Ultimately, Musk intends to use future versions of the craft to settle a permanent human colony on Mars before 2050.

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