Starship: SpaceX reveals when it is planning first orbital launch of Elon Musk’s most powerful rocket yet

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

SpaceX’s anticipated orbital launch of its most powerful yet Starship spacecraft will happen towards the end of April, according to its chief Elon Musk.

“Starship launch trending towards near the end of third week of April,” the Tesla and SpaceX chief tweeted on Monday.

The 120m-tall rocket, made of parts designed to be reusable, has been made with the aim to take astronauts to deep space and is the centerpiece of Mr Musk’s plans to colonise the Moon and Mars.

With deals already in place with Nasa to use the spacecraft to carry astronauts to the Moon as part of the Artemis missions, SpaceX plans to test the rocket.

The planned orbital flight test would see Starship and its Super Heavy booster lift off from SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Texas, before splashing down off the coast of Hawaii.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had posted a planning notice last week which said the launch date was expected to be 10 April, with backup dates on 11 and 12 April.

FAA’s Operation Plans Advisory report had marked 17 April as a primary target launch date with 18-22 April listed as back up launch dates.

SpaceX had already completed a high-altitude flight test for a Starship prototype, but many of the earlier tests ended in the rocket exploding, causing major set backs.

The FAA had also instructed SpaceX last year to complete an environmental review and adjust flight conditions to avoid disrupting wildlife.

Last month, Mr Musk said there was “hopefully above a 50 per cent chance” of the rocket reaching orbit, adding that Starship’s success held the “key to expanding life beyond Earth”.

“I am not saying it will get to orbit, but I am guaranteeing excitement. It won’t be boring,” he said.

A successful launch would see the Super Heavy and Starship separate with the booster heading to the Gulf of Mexico and the spacecraft traveling to orbit, then reentering Earth to vertically land near Hawaii.