Last year, space fans witnessed NASA finally launch the SLS rocket and perform the mission of the spacecraft around the moon, and this year the launch pad will not be idle, and a series of new rockets are expected to debut, including SpaceX’s Starship, United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan launch vehicle wait.
The much-anticipated starship
SpaceX’s Starship (Starship) will obviously be enough for space fans to be in awe. It can send up to 330,000 pounds of cargo to low-Earth orbit. After a full stack of the first super-heavy booster and the second-stage spacecraft, it will be as high as 120 meters , taller than the Saturn 5 used by the Apollo missions to the moon and NASA’s newest Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
Starship rockets are designed for moon landing missions and Musk’s ultimate vision: set foot on Mars, and will also play a huge role in NASA’s Artemis moon landing program, including the development of starship manned landing systems for space Man descends from lunar orbit to the lunar surface. If successful, Starship will not only serve more missions to the moon, but also reduce the cost of such missions.
SpaceX expects to conduct the first unmanned orbital test flight of the starship prototype this year, but has not announced a specific date so far, because before that, it must first complete the static ignition test of all 33 Raptor engines of the super heavy booster.
Vulcan, which replaces 2 active rockets
The Vulcan Launch Vehicle (Vulcan Centaur), developed by the United Launch Alliance, is a two-stage orbital heavy launch vehicle designed to meet the needs of the US government’s National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program, including launching the US Space Force, the US The intelligence agency’s satellite is expected to replace the current workhorse of the alliance’s Atlas V launch vehicle (Atlas V) and Delta IV Heavy rocket.
The first Vulcan launch mission, called Certification-1, will carry two demonstration satellites into low Earth orbit, a commercial lunar lander into a highly elliptical Earth orbit, and another payload beyond the Earth-moon orbit system.
At present, the Vulcan launch vehicle has received dozens of orders from the US Department of Defense and the Amazon Kuiper communication satellite program, but the United Launch Alliance only stated that the first flight will be carried out before the first quarter of this year, and the date has not yet been confirmed.
▲ Vulcan rocket launch concept map. (Source:United Launch Alliance/Flickr CC BY 2.0）
French new rocket
In addition to the United States, the French Ariane Group is also developing a one-time launch vehicle “Ariane 6 (Ariane 6)” in the name of the European Space Agency, with a height of about 60 meters. It is expected to prepare for the first launch this year. The painting will replace the Ariane 5 launch vehicle and save nearly half of the launch cost, but the first flight date has not yet been confirmed.
In addition, this rocket cannot be reused, and it may face fierce competition, including the most terrifying SpaceX.
Japanese H3 rocket
JAXA is about to launch the country’s newly developed disposable H3 rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center on the 12th of this month, carrying an earth observation satellite into orbit.
▲ In 2023, several new rockets are about to make their first flight.
(Source of the first picture:Official SpaceX Photos/Flickr CC BY 2.0）
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