“SpaceX’s Massive Starship Aims for Epic First Orbital Test Flight in April”

“SpaceX’s Massive Starship Aims for Epic First Orbital Test Flight in April”

SpaceX’s Starship vehicle, consisting of a first-stage booster called Super Heavy and a 165-foot-tall spacecraft known as Starship, could be launching on its first-ever orbital test flight in mid to late April. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted on March 16 that assuming the company gets FAA license approval, the first launch attempt will be at the end of the third week of April. The spacecraft will lift off from the Starbase facility in South Texas.

Starship is designed to be fully reusable and is powered by SpaceX’s next-gen Raptor engine, with 33 engines for Super Heavy and six for Starship. Starship has flown before, but only on short hops, and no Super Heavy variant has ever left the ground. The upcoming orbital test flight is the culmination of years of work by SpaceX, which has been assembling multiple Starship vehicles at Starbase.

Musk has stated that Starship has a 50% chance of success on its debut orbital flight, but he also mentioned that the company has an 80% chance of reaching orbit this year, as they are working on multiple Starship vehicles. However, Musk added that it will take a couple more years to achieve full and rapid reusability.

The tentative launch date for the Starship vehicle has shifted several times, which is not surprising, given that it is an entirely new vehicle and very different from SpaceX’s operational rockets, the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, which employ Merlin engines rather than Raptor engines. Musk’s tweet also had a humorous reference to the possibility of launching on April 20, which is a sort of holiday for cannabis culture.

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