Max Q: Spaceship. That’s the headline.

by Ana Lopez

Hello and welcome back to Max Q!

In this issue:

  • Starship
  • Goodbye, Terran 1
  • Three brothers want to get water from the moon for propellant
  • News from Stoke Space and more


I’m writing this on Friday, so by the time you read this on Monday, Starship may have already taken to the skies. Or blown up! Who knows!?

In any case, the US Federal Aviation Administration issued the launch license to SpaceX for the Starship orbital flight test at the end of Friday, giving everyone a LOT to look forward to over the weekend.

As a reminder, Starship is the most powerful rocket ever built. Once operational, it will be capable of launching 100-150 tons (100,000-150,000 kg) into orbit. For reference, Falcon 9, SpaceX’s workhorse rocket, has a payload capacity of 22,800 kg. To get that much mass into orbit, Starship’s 33 Raptor engines will generate more than 16.5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff.

So far, it looks like the company is still targeting Monday, but that could change depending on tech readiness, weather and other variables.

Goodbye, Terran 1: Relativity Space makes a hard pivot to an even bigger Terran R

Relativity Space is axing Terran 1 after just a single test flight to double down on development of its next-generation Terran R rocket, now configured to be even bigger than previously announced.

The six-year-old company is making other significant changes to Terran R: the rocket will no longer be fully reusable, but equipped with a replaceable second stage. In addition, the design will rely less on additive manufacturing, the technology Relativity is best known for and touted in each of its capital raises. These changes mean that the 270-meter Terran R will now have a payload of 23.5 tons in low Earth orbit and 33.5 tons when launched as a fully expendable vehicle.

While Relativity has been outspoken about the fact that Terran 1 functioned primarily as a development platform to technologically pave the way for Terran R, it was assumed that the company would fly Terran 1 at least a few more times before it was retired.

Theory of Relativity Space Terran R

Theory of Relativity Space Terran R. Image Credits: Relativity space

After some time at SpaceX, three brothers want to build a spacecraft powered by lunar water

A new startup founded by a trio of SpaceX veterans — who happen to be brothers — aims to build a transportation network in space using reusable spacecraft powered by water harvested from the moon.

Argo Space Corporationfounded by Robert Carlisle, Ryan Carlisle and Kirby Carlisle, lunar propellant is betting that lunar propellant will decouple space activities from Earth – unlocking a bustling economy beyond low Earth orbit (LEO).

Their plan addresses several key limitations of the space economy: First, all existing orbital transport vehicles are focused on LEO, not on more demanding orbits like geostationary (GEO) or cislunar. Second, none of these vehicles are reusable. Third, there is no method of refueling even a theoretically reusable vehicle. And last, such a method would likely rely on Earth-based propellant sources.

Image Credits: Argo space

More news from TC and beyond

  • of the European Space Agency The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) spacecraft is now on an eight-year journey to Jupiter. (ESA)
  • Firefly space travel completed a full static fire test prior to its Victus Nox mission for the US Space Force. (Glowworm)
  • ispace listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange just under two weeks before the first lunar lander lands on the moon. (
  • Kepler communications closed a $92 million Series C round to expand its real-time satellite data relay network. (
  • Loft Orbital was selected by Ball Aerospace to manufacture and operate an experimental test bed for the Space Development Agency on its Longbow satellite platform. (Ball)
  • NASA is confident that Blue Origin has the new Glenn rocket ready for the ESCAPADE mission in 2024. (SpaceNews)
  • from Orbex CEO Chris Larmour said he was stepping down after eight years of leading the small launch company. (
  • Rocket Lab will now launch NASA’s TROPICS satellites from New Zealand, instead of Virginia. (Rocket Lab)
  • Seraphim Space found that European investment in space exceeded US investment in the first quarter of this year, the first time European spending surpassed US. (Seraphim)
  • Catapult Space Travel expands its optical low-Earth object detection network by more than double, adding 80 new sensors in 20 global locations. (Catapult)
  • The US Federal Communications Commission launched its new space agency, which will be headed by Julie Kearney. Previously, Kearney served as special adviser on space law and policy to the commission. (FCC)

Max Q is brought to you by me, Aria Alamalhodaei. If you enjoy reading Max Q, please consider forwarding it to a friend.

Max Q: Spaceship. That’s the headline. by Aria Alamalhodaei originally published on

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