We’ve been hearing about the next flight of Starship, Elon Musk’s next-generation spacecraft, for over a year now, with no exact date.
Possible launch at the end of October
Asked on Twitter on Wednesday when Starship’s first orbital flight could finally take place, the world’s richest man replied: “Possibly late next month, but November seems very likely.” »
The Starship prototype, dubbed SN15, flew at high altitude (in Earth’s atmosphere) and landed without an explosion on May 5, 2021. This is the last time the spacecraft that NASA hopes to use to return Artemis astronauts to the surface of the moon leaves earth. .
Since then, Elon Musk and SpaceX have been busy preparing for Starship’s first orbital demonstration flight. The vehicle will take to the skies for the first time on a super-heavy booster. This week, the massive first-stage booster caught fire for the first time on a seven-engine test bed. That’s more than double the number of engines from the previous test and is less than a quarter of the engines that would make up a fully loaded Super Heavy, which is designed to launch with a total of 33 engines.
Another license to get
In addition to completing testing and preparing the Super Heavy, SpaceX must obtain a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the government agency that regulates civil aviation, for the Starship.
So all eyes are now on the FAA, which already gave SpaceX tentative approval when the launch plan passed a key environmental assessment in June. At the same time, 75 changes were required in the mission profile. They must be completed before the license is issued.
Elon Musk, meanwhile, hopes to have a full launch “dress rehearsal” and test the 33-engine Super Heavy for the first time in the coming weeks.
When Starship and Super Heavy finally launch together, the former will briefly fly into orbit in a test flight, followed by a splashdown off the coast of Hawaii. Super Heavy will attempt to land on a modified oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
CNET.com article adapted from