SpaceX May Attempt Starship Launch In March

Image credit: SpaceX

Elon Musk says first SpaceX Starship orbital launch may take place in March as company seeks critical test of long-range space vehicle

SpaceX may attempt its most ambitious Starship launch to date in March, chief executive Elon Musk said over the weekend.

“If remaining tests go well, we will attempt a Starship launch next month,” Musk said on Twitter in response to a user’s post about Starship.

“Success is far from certain, but excitement is guaranteed,” he said in another post on Sunday.

Musk said in January there was a “real shot” at launching Starship in late February and that a March attempt was highly likely.

An animation of the Starship rocket in orbit. Image credit: SpaceX
Concept animation of the Starship rocket in orbit. SpaceX

Reaching orbit

The company since last year has been planning to take Starship into orbit for the first time, a critical test as it seeks to fly NASA astronauts to the Moon and to eventually take humans to Mars.

SpaceX also wants to use Starship for tasks such as launching its larger next-generation Starlink 2.0 communications satellites into orbit.

The fully reusable vehicle is based on a giant first stage called Super Heavy which is intended to push the 165-foot-tall Starship spacecraft into orbit.

The upcoming launch involves a Super Heavy prototype called Booster 7 and upper-stage variant Ship 24 which are to launch from SpaceX’s Texas facility, called Starbase.

NASA’s Space Launch System rocket carrying the Orion spacecraft launches on the Artemis I flight test last November. Image credit: NASA

Hawaii splashdown

Booster 7 is planned to come down in the Gulf of Mexico soon after launch, while Ship 24 is to circle the earth and splash down in the Pacific Ocean near the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

The components passed a fuelling test on 23 January, with an upcoming test intended to fire all 33 of Booster 7’s Raptor engines for the first time in a “static fire” trial.

Starship’s most recent launch came in May 2021 in which a three-engine upper-stage prototype called SN15 launched 6.2 miles above the Texas facility before descending to carry out a vertical landing.

NASA last November launched its own massive Artemis rocket in an unmanned mission taking an unmanned Orion capsule to the Moon after which it returned successfully to Earth.