Elon Musk outlines biggest hurdles the SpaceX Starship needs to overcome

SpaceX Starship explodes on landing during a test

Elon Musk and his SpaceX have been working tirelessly to get the Starship rocket up and running. Since December, there have been two tests of Starship rockets, the SN8 and the SN9. But while both of the rockets ended in a ball of flames as they attempted to land, this has not deterred Mr Musk.

The SN10 is already on the launchpad, with SpaceX set to test its flight capabilities at a so far unannounced time.

However, the South African-born billionaire has told his followers what the biggest challenges the Starship rocket faces if SpaceX ever wants to get humans to Mars.

Twitter user Everyday Astronaut asked Mr Musk: “What’s your biggest priority with Starship right now? What currently feels like the most uphill battle or most urgent problem to solve?”

Mr Musk gave three points which he believes will put Starship in better stead going forward.

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He said: “Orbital launch tower that can stack. Enough Raptors for orbit booster. Improve ship & booster mass.”

An orbital launch tower is a platform for the rocket to lift-off from, rather than from the ground.

Raptors are the rockets which give the machine thrust and improvements to “ship and booster mass” will allow the company to work on lowering the weight of the rocket while increasing its payload carrying capabilities.

While most people would have assumed landing the rockets successfully would be top of the list after two mishaps, SpaceX enthusiasts stated that the explosions are a matter of natural trial and error.

One Reddit user posted in a thread regarding Mr Musk’s reply: “[Elon Musk] absolutely priorities reuse from the beginning.

“He just doesn’t see the landing issues as the biggest uphill battle, mainly because the overall concept of the bellyflop and flip seems to be legit, and making the landings successful and reliable is just a matter of continue to refine the problems.”

While SpaceX fans might be understanding over the SN9 explosion, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is not and will launch an investigation.

The regulatory body believes there are serious safety concerns over the Starship – the rocket which could eventually take humans to Mars.

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The FAA said: “The FAA’s top priority in regulating commercial space transportation is ensuring that operations are safe, even if there is an anomaly.

“The FAA will oversee the investigation of today’s landing mishap involving the SpaceX Starship SN9 prototype in Boca Chica, Texas.

“Although this was an uncrewed test flight, the investigation will identify the root cause of today’s mishap and possible opportunities to further enhance safety as the program develops.”

The FAA defines a mishap as a “launch or reentry accident, launch or reentry incident, launch site accident, failure to complete a launch or reentry as planned, or an unplanned event or series of events resulting in up to $25,000 (£18,322) worth of damage, a fatality or serious injury”, according to CNN.

However, SpaceX engineer John Insprucker said, despite the explosion, the future of Starship looks in good health.

He said during the live stream of the launch: “We demonstrated the ability to transition the engines to the landing propellant tanks, the subsonic reentry looked very good and stable.

“We’ve just got to work on that landing a little bit.”

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