After many delays and a last-minute approval, SpaceX appears ready to conduct Starship’s first orbital test flight. The next-generation rocket is now expected to launch from Boca Chica, Texas at 9:20AM Eastern with a livestream already available through the company’s YouTube channel (below). While conditions are generally favorable, there are backup launch windows on Tuesday and Wednesday.
This is the first time SpaceX is launching a fully integrated Starship system with a Super Heavy booster underneath to get the main vehicle into orbit. The combination is about 394 feet tall, or taller than the Saturn V rocket. While both Starship and the booster are designed to be reusable, both will splash into the sea during the test.
There’s no guarantee of success. In a Twitter Spaces chat on Sunday, Elon Musk told fans to “set your expectations low.” Don’t be surprised if something goes awry, in other words. Instead, this test is more about collecting data to improve future boosted Starship flights.
A successful test is crucial both for SpaceX’s long-term plans, including lunar tourism, as well as NASA’s exploration plans. The Artemis Moon landings beginning in December 2025 will use Starship to take crews from an orbiting Gateway station to the lunar surface. While those won’t depend on a booster, NASA needs to know that Starship is reliable before these crewed missions can go forward.
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