Stacked

Look: 8 stunning images show Starship is ready for the Moon

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Elon Musk

#1: On August 6, SpaceX’s Starship became the tallest rocket in the world — for about an hour.

Elon Musk

#2: For that short time, SpaceX’s SN20 second-stage rocket was stacked on top of the Super Heavy booster — just like it will be for the rocket’s first orbital test flight, scheduled for later this year.

Elon Musk

#3: At nearly 395 feet tall, the stacked Starship would tower over the Statue of Liberty (305 feet) and Big Ben (310 feet) if they posed for a selfie together.

NASA

It’s almost twice the size of NASA’s gargantuan SLS core stage rocket, which was assembled earlier this year.

Elon Musk

#4: SpaceX stacked the rocket to test its assembly procedure and check the fit of the two main components before final preparations for Starship’s test flight are made.

#5: As a bonus, the dry run gave onlookers a stunning view of the towering spacecraft.

Elon Musk

SpaceX founder Elon Musk summed up his thoughts: “Dream come true.”

So what makes this moment so critical?

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First things first: It doesn’t mean Starship is ready to take flight just yet.

SpaceX

#6: Musk says there’s still work to be done on ground propellant tanks, thermal protection for the Starship and booster, and a quick disconnect arm for the ship.

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Before takeoff, SpaceX’s launch procedures also have to pass an environmental review by the FAA.

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#7: The orbital test flight will see the booster splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico and Starship attempt a landing on a drone ship near Hawaii after a trip around the Earth.

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That’s all leading up to SpaceX’s real goal: Using Starship to cart astronauts and cargo to the Moon and Mars within the next decade.

SpaceX has secured a contract to use Starship as the lunar lander for NASA’s Artemis program, which could return humans to the Moon as early as 2024.

MARK FELIX/AFP/Getty Images

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#8: By then, Starship’s record-breaking size will be just a footnote. But for now, it’s a sight worth taking in.

Read more science stories here.

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