Starship Test # 3

“In the meantime, the Tellurian came back from Mars, and the success of their voyage caused every world citizen to expand his chest and look mightily pleased.”

Eando Binder. (1932). “The First Martian.” Amazing Stories, Volume 7 (October)


The Starship Test #3 mission is scheduled for March 14th, 2024, 7AM CT. For the uninitiated, the Starship launch system is SpaceX’s solution to get humanity interplanetary. It is so revolutionary that each of its specifications would have been considered a near impossibility not so long ago.  I’ll briefly describe some of its features and then point interested parties to online spaces where the launch can be viewed live.

Starship is a two-stage reusable launch system. The first stage booster, the Super Heavy, is equipped with 33 raptor engines each delivering 230tf of thrust with an impressive total max thrust of 7,590 metric tonnes force. The second stage, Starship, uses 3 Raptor engines in addition to 3 vacuum Raptor engines that are specially designed for use in the vacuum of space. Starship has an eye-popping payload capacity of 100-150 metric tonnes and is designed for human habitation: “… the Starship crew configuration can transport up to 100 people from Earth into LEO and on to the Moon and Mars. The crew configuration of Starship includes private cabins, large common areas, centralized storage, solar storm shelters and a viewing gallery.”

The Starship system uses methalox, which is super-cooled liquid methane for fuel, and liquid oxygen to oxidize, both chosen because they can be more or less easily sourced on Mars. The system is a jaw-dropping 122 meters in length and 9 meters in diameter, and the massive stainless-steel structure is beautiful to behold. Starship is both form and function, but unlike its predecessors is not hand-crafted piecemeal, but can be manufactured in an efficient, cost-effective manner, that was a feat once dismissed as pie-in-the-sky impossible.

The Starship Test 1 Mission achieved liftoff for the largest rocket ever flown. Starship Test 2 demonstrated another amazing feat, the successful demonstration of ‘hot staging’ which is a method by which stage separation, or the unbuckling of booster from ship, is achieved without the need for the ship to decelerate.

The prior Starship tests did not achieve all their ambitious mission goals, but they had not been expected to. Their purpose had been, as is Starship Test 3’s, to serve as experiments from which learnings could be gleaned and solutions implemented towards maximizing system efficiency and safety parameters. Like the preceding missions, Starship Test 3 will launch from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas. If all goes well, after hot staging, the booster will attempt a sea landing, while Starship will continue to perform a few tests before it also attempts a sea landing.


The 110-minute launch window opens at 7AM CT, Thursday, March 14th.  You can watch online:






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