SpaceX’s next-generation Starship spaceship has been under development for nearly a year and a half, and the launch of a prototype on a Super Heavy rocket has been repeatedly delayed. Musk, who is also at the helm of Tesla and Twitter, expressed optimism on Saturday that Starship’s maiden orbital trip might occur as soon as next month in a tweet.
“We have a real shot at late February. March launch attempt appears highly likely,” he wrote. In 2020 and 2021, SpaceX conducted a series of Starship high-altitude flights, with a three-engine version of the spaceship flying to the stratosphere and returning for a series of landing attempts, all of which resulted in explosions except for the final, successful effort on May 5, 2021.
We have a real shot at late February. March launch attempt appears highly likely.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 8, 2023
Soon after, SpaceX declared that it will shift gears and begin mass-producing Raptor engines while simultaneously putting prototypes of its Super Heavy boosters through their paces and getting ready for Starship’s first orbital launch.
The goal is for Starship to launch from the company’s Starbase in Texas atop Super Heavy, with Super Heavy returning to land on a platform in the Gulf of Mexico after separation, while the Starship vehicle carries on to orbit and then splashes down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii.
Multiple roadblocks have impeded the flight plan, most of which are related to the lengthy process of obtaining a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration. After many months of environmental assessment, the EPA finally gave SpaceX the green light to proceed with the mission, but only after the corporation made hundreds of changes to the launch plan.
Since the business is currently producing and testing Raptor engines and getting Super Heavy ready for its maiden flight while dealing with the necessary revisions, it has not yet received its launch authorization from the FAA.
Since the FAA’s decision was revealed in June 2022, each subsequent update has placed the next Starship flight within a matter of months. Other groups are also eager to see Starship return to the skies, not only SpaceX. NASA plans to use it as part of the Artemis mission to bring people back to the moon this decade.
After over a year and a half of work, SpaceX is still unable to get a prototype of its next-generation Starship spaceship launched on a Super Heavy rocket. Musk, who also runs Tesla and Twitter, tweeted on Saturday that he hopes Starship’s first orbital flight will happen as soon as next month.
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