Updated March 17th, 2023 at 15:42 IST

Elon Musk shares new tentative timeline for debut launch of SpaceX's Starship

Elon Musk, during a recent interview, predicted that SpaceX's Starship megarocket has a 50% chance of reaching orbit. "It won't be boring," he said.

Reported by: Harsh Vardhan
"SpaceX will be ready to launch Starship in a few weeks, then launch timing depends on FAA license approval," Elon Musk tweeted; Image: | Image:self

SpaceX's mega-rocket Starship will be ready for its first launch attempt "in a few weeks", possibly in the month of April, Elon Musk has predicted. In a tweet, Musk said that the launch timing depends on the license approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which reviewed the environmental implications of a Starship launch from Boca Chica, Texas. 

"SpaceX will be ready to launch Starship in a few weeks, then launch timing depends on FAA license approval. Assuming that takes a few weeks, first launch attempt will be near end of third week of April, aka …(sic)," his tweet read. 

Starship, which stands 120 meters or 394 feet tall, is composed of two components-- the Super Heavy Booster (first stage) and the Ship (second stage). Endorsed as humanity's vehicle for missions to Mars, the mega rocket's launch has been a long time coming owing to multiple delays over many months. However, one should still take Musk's prediction with a pinch of salt as he said earlier this year that SpaceX had a 'real shot' of launching the rocket in February. Prior to this, he predicted that Starship would fly in July 2022, but it is way past the deadline. 

Hurdles before Starship's launch

SpaceX teams are gearing for the fully reusable two-stage rocket's debut orbital launch which would see it take off from Starbase in Boca Chica. With the entire mission lasting for about 90 minutes, the Super Heavy Booster will land in the Gulf of Mexico a little over 30 km from the shore 170 seconds after the launch. The second stage, the ship on the other hand, will soar to orbit and make a landing about 100 km northwest coast of Kauai island. The plan was revealed in filings to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in May 2021, CNBC reported. 

While the plan is ready, the biggest hurdle currently is a launch license from the FAA. In June last year, the FAA gave SpaceX the approval to continue Starship's development but directed it to take several steps that would reduce the impact of the rocket's powerful launch on its surroundings. Assuming the company does what it was directed to do for procuring the license, the rocket's immense power may prove to be another hurdle before the mission's success. 

At the Morgan Stanley Conference on March 7, Musk said that Starship has a 50% chance of reaching orbit and that it might blow up in the first attempt. "It won't be boring," he said. 


Published March 17th, 2023 at 15:42 IST