Will SpaceX’s spacecraft first launch into orbit on April 17?
The first-ever orbital flight of SpaceX’s giant Starship could take place in less than a week.
SpaceX website identifies April 17 (opens in a new tab) as a target date for SpatialshipThe first orbital attempt by , which will lift off from the company’s Starbase site in South Texas.
The timing is far from being set in stone, however, as SpaceX must still obtain a launch license from the United States Federal Aviation Administration. In effect, Description of SpaceX’s mission (opens in a new tab) notes that the date of the flight “tends towards the third week of April, pending regulatory approval”.
Related: SpaceX’s spacecraft looks amazing stacked for launch in these photos
Regulatory hurdles appear to be the only ones standing in the way of the highly anticipated launch; SpaceX seems to consider the technical side as square, or almost.
The company Starship stacked for flight last week, placing the Ship 24 prototype atop its Booster 7 first stage on Starbase’s orbital launch pad. And no more major work is apparently necessary before takeoff.
“Starship is ready for launch. Pending regulatory approval,” said SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said via Twitter SATURDAY (opens in a new tab) (April 8).
“Teams are focused on launch readiness ahead of Starship’s first integrated flight test as early as next week, pending regulatory approval – no launch rehearsals this week,” SpaceX echoed Tuesday, April 11, in a Posting on Twitter (opens in a new tab) which also featured a gorgeous shot of a rainbow behind the stacked ship.
Crews are focused on launch readiness ahead of Starship’s first integrated flight test as early as next week, pending regulatory approval – no launch rehearsals this week https://t.co/SpsRVRsvz1 pic.twitter. com/ovYUQgAjAcApril 11, 2023
Starship consists of a massive first-stage booster called Super Heavy and a 165-foot-tall (50-meter) upper-stage spacecraft known, somewhat confusingly, as Starship. Both vehicles are made of stainless steel, powered by the company’s new Raptor engine, and designed to be fully and quickly reusable.
The ship will be the most powerful rocket ever flown, and its reusability will allow SpaceX to launch huge payloads into Earth orbit and beyond at very low prices, the company said. Musk believes the vehicle will revolutionize spaceflight, helping to make ambitious feats like colonizing Mars economically feasible.
Indeed, on Monday April 10, SpaceX posted a 5-minute animation on YouTube showing a Spaceship flight to Mars (opens in a new tab)which ends with passengers admiring a landscape inhabited and sculpted by humanity.
Mike Wall is the author of “Over there (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) Or Facebook (opens in a new tab).