SpaceX Starship has potential but ‘not yet’

Prototype Starship #24 conducts a test firing of its six Raptor engines at the company’s facility near Brownsville, Texas on September 8, 2022.


PARIS – Leader of a Northrop Grumman Subsidiaries are working with By Elon Musk SpaceX sees exciting potential in its private space venture’s massive Starship rockets, but cautions the industry to limit expectations until major milestones are reached.

Northrop Grumman has a deal with SpaceX to launch robotic spacecraft that will extend the life of satellites in orbit. The Northrop unit has twice successfully docked spacecraft with satellitesand plans to expand the service.

“We’re working with SpaceX – Starship is going to be an amazing possibility,” Rob Hauge, Northrop Grumman’s president of SpaceLogistics, said during a panel at the annual World Satellite Business Week conference in Wednesday.

However, speaking to CNBC after the conference, Hauge said that while “Starship would be useful,” SpaceX has yet to reach orbit with a rocket prototype.

“There is still a lot of work to be done… we need to see a mature launch vehicle,” Hauge told CNBC. “The spaceship isn’t there yet.”

A view from Northrop Grumman’s MEV-2 spacecraft as it approaches docking with Intelsat’s IS-10-02 satellite.


Hauge’s business builds and operates robotic spacecraft known as the Mission Expansion Vehicle (MEV). Its customers are companies with satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO).

“For Starship to get to the GEO, they’re planning to refuel the rocket in orbit… which hasn’t been done yet,” Hauge said. “We’re going to make sure this capability works, which means all the way to making sure the rocket we’re about to launch works.”

SpaceX did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Hauge’s comments.

Musk’s company is working towards the next major milestone in the development of Starship, making a successful test flight into orbit. SpaceX had hoped to conduct a Starship orbital launch as early as last summer, but delays in progress and regulatory approvals pushed back that timeline.

The company is developing a nearly 400-foot-tall Starship rocket with the goal of carrying extraterrestrial goods and people. Its Super Heavy rocket and boosters are powered by SpaceX’s Raptor series of engines, and the entire system is designed to be reusable.

Musk claims the system could make space travel more like commercial air travel.

Why Starship is indispensable for the future of SpaceX

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