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Old 17-05-2021, 04:29 PM
glend (Glen)
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Lake Macquarie
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SpaceX Starship Orbital Flight Plan

A fair bit happening at SpaceX, in terms of planning for the first orbital flight of a Starship.

Starship SN20 is scheduled to undertake the first orbital flight sometime after the 20th of June this year. It will ride aloft on the BN3 booster. SpaceX has filed the required paperwork for the flight approval. This is going to be a sacrificial flight, in that actual landings will not be land based, but likely water landings. Plans call for the Booster to burn back towards Boca Chica after separation from the Starship, just like Falcon 9 boosters do now, but they will not attempt to bring it back to Boca Chica, rather go for a soft water landing in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore from Boca Chica. It will do a normal landing burn approach but touch down in the water.
The Starship SN20 will have Raptor vacuum engines, for orbital insertion, and re-entry burn. They plan to bring it down near Hawaii, for the same sort of soft upright water landing as the Booster.
The goal of this mission is data gathering for future flights.
It remains to be seen if they will be attempting to recover this booster and SN20, the big question is probably will they float, and does recovery provide any value. Heat shield inspection might be one big reason to at least keep it afloat long enough to photograph the hull. Once in salt water they would likely need to be scrapped anyway, hot engines plunged into the ocean does not sound like a re-usability practice.

It remains to be seen what they will launch from, as the orbital launch platform complex and it's fuel farm do not look like being ready in one month. Although the Orbital launch table could be finished. The booster will have 27 Raptors to lift the combined stack. They will need to fuel both stages somehow.

It will likely be interesting.
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