SpaceX Prepares to Launch its Starship Rocket: The Most Powerful Rocket Ever Built

SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, is preparing to launch its Starship rocket for the first time from its Starbase launch facility in Texas.[0] Should it succeed, Starship will become the largest and most formidable rocket to soar through the atmosphere.[1] The Starship vehicle is intended to pave the way for astronauts to visit the Moon and Mars.[2] It is a 164-foot (50-meter) tall spacecraft designed to carry crew and cargo that sits atop a 230-foot tall first-stage Super Heavy booster rocket. Comprising of two parts, the spacecraft is made up of the Super Heavy booster that houses 33 engines responsible for launching the rocket, and the smaller crew capsule called Starship that is positioned on top of the booster. SpaceX had planned to launch on 17 April but had to delay the launch for at least 48 hours due to a frozen pressure valve.[3] The first launch attempt was not successful, and the rocket exploded into a ball of fire on 4/20 during its first orbital launch.

Starship is a behemoth stainless steel launch vehicle that towers over the coastal wetlands and brush country of South Texas, just a few miles north of the Mexican border.[4] To aid in its recovery and reuse, the Super Heavy booster features grid fins and chines – small, aerodynamic protrusions that assist the rocket during its descent to Earth.[4] The rocket booster will be discarded into the Gulf of Mexico shortly after liftoff if all goes to plan.[5] In future flights, however, SpaceX plans to recover the vehicle by guiding it to an upright landing back at the launch site.[6] SpaceX’s ultimate goal is to fly Super Heavy boosters back to the launch site and use the large “chopsticks” mounted on the launch tower in order to “catch” the boosters as they come into land.[6] This will hopefully allow for a rapid turnaround of the boosters as no recovery assets are needed, and vehicles can be placed directly back onto the launch mount shortly after landing.[6]

The megarocket comprises of two parts that can be reused: the upper stage and the Super Heavy booster. The two elements are assembled on top of each other before liftoff, resulting in a towering rocket that measures 394 feet (120 meters) in height.[7] The rocket with the highest number of engines is the Super Heavy, boasting 33 of them.[3] The booster’s 33 engines will generate more than 16 million pounds of thrust at full throttle, making the Super Heavy and Starship vehicle the most powerful rocket in history, with about twice the thrust of NASA’s Saturn 5 moon rocket from the Apollo program and the more recent Space Launch System moon rocket for the Artemis program.

NASA has already awarded SpaceX contracts and options worth more than $3 billion to use Starship to ferry government astronauts to the surface of the moon under the space agency’s Artemis program. In the previous year, NASA granted SpaceX a sum of $2.9 billion to develop Starship, which has been designed as the lunar lander for the Artemis program of the agency. Assuming the architecture is successful, it will transport the following group of American astronauts from the lunar orbit to the moon’s surface for the Artemis III expedition.[8] Before docking with Starship, which will be waiting for them, the astronauts will use NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule to reach lunar orbit. In 2025, SpaceX intends to utilize Starship to transport NASA’s Artemis 3 astronauts to the moon, and has intentions to conduct a minimum of three private space missions using the same spacecraft. Two of these expeditions will be focused on carrying passengers on a circumnavigation of the moon. As part of its long-term objective of colonizing the Red Planet, SpaceX intends to use Starship as its primary vehicle to transport astronauts to Mars.

The test flight of Starship is intended to gather data, regardless of whether the full mission is achieved.[9] SpaceX had previously cautioned that the chances of success were low.[9] Unlike NASA, which attempts to avoid risk, SpaceX has a record of showing a willingness to have test flights explode, with Musk saying the private venture benefits from understanding what goes wrong.[9]

0. “How to watch the SpaceX Starship launch livestream” Mashable, 20 Apr. 2023,

1. “Starship launch livestream: Watch as SpaceX begins second attempt” New Scientist, 20 Apr. 2023,

2. “Mega rocket Starship could enable new types of astrophysics”, 17 Apr. 2023,

3. “SpaceX scrubs launch of massive Starship rocket” CBC, 16 Apr. 2023,

4. “Elon Musk’s success criteria for Starship test flight: “Don’t blow up the launch pad” – Spaceflight Now” Spaceflight Now, 20 Apr. 2023,

5. “Live updates: SpaceX’s Starship explodes on launch attempt” CNN, 20 Apr. 2023,

6. “Starship set for maiden launch attempt Thursday –”, 20 Apr. 2023,

7. “Watch Live: SpaceX Attempts First Starship Launch After Valve Mishap” Gizmodo, 19 Apr. 2023,

8. “SpaceX Starship launch from Texas: Here’s everything you need to know” Florida Today, 19 Apr. 2023,

9. “Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket blows up minutes after launch” The Guardian, 20 Apr. 2023,