Elon Musk gives close-up tour of SpaceX’s huge Starship rocket

Following his recent tour of SpaceX’s Starfactory facility at Boca Chica in Texas, SpaceX boss Elon Musk has now offered a close-up look at the Starship megarocket on the launchpad, also in Boca Chica.

Space enthusiast Tim Dodd of the Everyday Astronaut YouTube channel walked with Musk right up to the base of the massive rocket, which comprises the first-stage Super Heavy booster and upper-stage Starship spacecraft. Once fully licensed, the mighty machine is expected to carry crew and cargo to the moon and beyond.

The video was shot just before the Starship’s fourth test flight earlier this month, though there’s a segment at the end that was recorded following the successful test.

“It’s a damn tall rocket,” Musk says as the pair stare up at the 120-meter-tall vehicle, adding: “It’s 5,000 tons at liftoff; it’s the largest flying object ever made of any kind.”

More remarkably, SpaceX plans to “catch” the Super Heavy booster using the launch tower’s giant mechanical arms that you can see securing the booster ahead of launch.

Bringing it home in this way will allow SpaceX to reuse the booster, which is key to the success of SpaceX’s Starship program as it will help it to drastically reduce the cost of missions involving the rocket.

SpaceX regularly lands the first stage of its smaller Falcon 9 rocket by using landing legs, but Musk said that he wants the Super Heavy to go without legs, primarily to reduce the rocket’s weight. It means that the catching maneuver is a crucial part of the Starship system.

Tantalizingly, SpaceX is hoping to attempt the procedure with the Starship’s next test flight, though as Musk makes clear in the video, there’s ongoing discussion among the SpaceX team regarding how exactly to get the Super Heavy safely back to the launch tower.

Everyday Astronaut’s video ends with a chat with Musk just after the fourth Starship test in which both stages of the rocket achieved landing burns for the first time. The SpaceX CEO is clearly delighted with the test and is quick to start discussing how the design of Starship can be further improved based on what he’s just seen, including the creation of a more robust flap hinge area that can better withstand the heat as the rocket returns to Earth.

The next Starship flight test promises to be a spectacular one and could take place as early as next month.

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