SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has confirmed that the spacecraft is fully stacked and ready to launch on its first orbital flight.
Spacecraft, comprising the upper floor of the Starship and the Super Heavy first stage, will become the most powerful rocket ever launched when it lifts off from SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, possibly in the coming days.
“Starship is stacked and ready to launch next week, pending regulatory approval,” Musk tweeted THURSDAY.
The all-important approval is in the hands of the Federal Aviation Administration, with SpaceX clearly hoping to receive it anytime now.
In a separate tweet that included photos of the rocket stacked on the pad, SpaceX said it was looking to perform a “launch rehearsal,” with liftoff coming soon after.
SpaceX will soon embark on final preparations for the uncrewed launch of the 120-meter-tall rocket, whose 33 Raptor 2 engines will have a colossal 17 million pounds of thrust as it roars skyward, nearly double that of of the most powerful current rocket, that of NASA. Space Launch System, which first flew in November last year.
While both sections of the vehicle are designed to land on Earth and be used again and again for multiple flights, the next test mission will see the Super Heavy booster and Starship descend into the ocean.
NASA has already signed deals with SpaceX to use a modified version of the Starship to land astronauts on the moon. The first of those missions is Artemis III, the highly anticipated voyage that will see the first woman and first person of color set foot on the lunar surface – possibly in 2025 – in what will also be the first crewed moon landing since the five NASA Apollo missions. decades ago.
There’s a lot of excitement surrounding the Starship’s first orbital flight, although Musk recently acknowledged that a lot could go wrong.
Speaking during an appearance at a Morgan Stanley conference last month, the SpaceX chief said the rocket has only a 50% chance of reaching orbit.
“I’m not saying it will go into orbit, but I guarantee excitement. It won’t be boring,” he said, adding, “I think it has, I don’t know , I’m hoping for about a 50% chance of reaching orbit.”
Musk said SpaceX is currently building additional Starship rockets and puts the odds of one reaching orbit at 80%, which is more promising.