Earlier this month, SpaceX launched its second orbital attempt of its massive Starship rocket.
And while the massive rocket and its accompanying Super Heavy booster managed to reach a new record height of 90 miles, the rocket then violently exploded yet again, in what the company cheekily calls a "rapid unscheduled disassembly."
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk remains publicly unperturbed by those uneven results, and is already looking to get the next iteration off the ground.
Now, he's unveiling plans for a new version of the orbital-class rocket, which he says will have key upgrades over its predecessor.
"Version 2 of the ship holds more propellant, reduces dry mass, and improves reliability," Musk tweeted last week.
In other words, we're likely in for yet another bombastic show, which could still end in another explosion — or a heroic trip through outer space and splashdown in Hawaii.
Pumping Out Rockets
But when Version 2 will take off remains unclear. Last week, Musk said that the company is already working on a "next-gen Raptor engine that is robust enough not to require a heat shield."
"Will also have more thrust, higher [efficiency] and many other improvements," he added of the engine.
While SpaceX "could make them faster," Musk added that "engine production is not the limiting factor," indicating that there are plenty of other challenges the company still has to overcome.
The executive gave a characteristically optimistic timeline in a November 19 tweet, predicting that "Starship Flight 3 hardware should be ready to fly in three to four weeks," adding that "there are three ships in final production in the high bay,"
Translating that to a more realistic timeline, we're likely still many months away from watching the next Starship attempt to reach orbit.
But in the meantime, SpaceX is already working on a massive "Starfactory" production facility to increase Starship production, meaning that once it's fully up and running, the time between launch attempts could start to go down.
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