Elon Musk Gets More Specific About Starship’s First Rocket Launch To Space


We’ve been waiting for nearly two years to see Elon Musk’s big rocket blast off again, and now the SpaceX founder is starting to narrow the targeted time frame for Starship’s first orbital attempt.

The controversial entrepreneur said on Twitter last week that the next generation vehicle destined to take astronauts to the moon and perhaps start a civilization on Mars “will be ready to launch… in a few weeks, then launch timing depends on FAA license approval.”

Musk estimates that will put the first launch attempt “near end of third week of April, aka…”

The trailing ellipsis there appears to be a reference to one of Musk’s favorite numbers and memes, the forever cannabis-entangled 420. Thursday in the third week of April is 4/20.

While Musk would surely love to launch his BFR on 4/20 (or several weeks later on 6/9), it will ultimately come down to the SpaceX team’s readiness, weather at Starbase in Texas and yes, the FAA.

Musk has had a rather public feud with the FAA, which probably peaked in late 2020 when SpaceX launched an early Starship prototype without waiting for final approvals from the agency. This slowed down the Starship test cadence and the matter was reportedly settled between the agency and the company without the details being made public.

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After a successful high-altitude (within Earth’s atmosphere) flight and landing of another Starship prototype in mid 2021, the company pivoted to preparing for its first orbital test, which triggered a lengthy environmental review process overseen by the FAA.

Following many months and thousands of public comments, the FAA gave the green light to SpaceX to move forward last June, but with 75 conditions or changes the company would need to make.

Since then, Starbase has been abuzz with preparations and refinements to Starship and its Super Heavy booster, which will fly for the first time as part of the demonstration. Earlier this year a static fire of Super Heavy in preparation for the orbital flight saw 31 of the booster’s 33 Raptor engines light up. Musk declared that even with two of the engines not functioning correctly, the booster would have had enough power to make it to orbit had the test been an actual flight.

It’s important to remember that Musk has already had to adjust his target for the orbital flight several times, but things do seem to be wrapping up. Ultimately, however, we’ll have to wait for the FAA to signal how soon liftoff truly is.

When it finally happens, Super Heavy will boost Starship towards orbit and may then attempt a landing of some sort. Meanwhile, Starship will make a quick trip to space, ending with a splashdown landing off the coast of Hawaii.

Stay tuned…



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