DECRYPTION – Both reusable and oversized, this titanic rocket assembled in Texas could make its first flight this year.
When Elon Musk announced in 2017 that he was embarking on the construction of a fully reusable superheavy launcher whose only upper part is the size of Ariane 5, almost twice its diameter and lands on its hind legs like Tintin’s rocket (and powerful enough to pull itself free from lunar or Martian gravity), few people take it completely seriously.
The fanciful schedule – a first flight to Mars in 2022 and a first manned flight in 2024 – does not help. At best, discerning observers salute the panache of the idea and the originality of the vision. When the following year SpaceX made a miniprototype built in the open in a field near the village of Boca Chica in Texas with stainless steel sheets coarsely riveted to each other, light years away from the futuristic craft that had been presented, one wonders if the serial entrepreneur has not presumed his genius.
Three years later, the Starship Project (formerly
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