SpaceX is launching its Starship rocket today for the first launch.
The Federal Aviation Administration has granted Elon Musk a license to test its most powerful rocket systems, stating that it meets all safety and environment requirements.
Starship, the Starship rocket, is scheduled to launch its first orbital test on Monday at 8am Central Time (2pm UK Time) from Brownsville, Texas. The flight test window opens an hour prior.
Live broadcasts of the event must begin at least 45 minutes prior to lift-off.
Musk had low expectations of the launch.
He told a Twitter audience that if the outcome was not as expected, it would be a success. The best-case scenario will provide vital data on how the vehicle will ascend to space and fly back to Earth.
“Morrow will probably not be successful.” It’s a fundamentally difficult task.
Starship, the world’s largest and most powerful rocket system, sits atop an enormous Super Heavy booster with a combined height 120m. It was unveiled for the first time in 2019.
SpaceX founder Musk said that once it is up and running it will be used to launch satellites into space – and eventually it will carry astronauts to Mars and the moon.
According to the billionaire, any launch in the next week has only a 50% success rate. However, he believes that there is an 80% possibility of reaching orbit before the end of this year.
In February the Super Heavy booster with 33 rocket engines had a static launch test and was able to generate enough power for orbit.
How does the first orbital testing work?
A Super Heavy prototype named Booster 7 would launch Starship from a launchpad in Brownsville.
The second stage of the rocket system – which would eventually carry astronauts – would be launched and would complete an orbit around the Earth before returning to the atmosphere and splashing in the Pacific.
In the Gulf of Mexico, the first phase would be discarded.
The first test flight will not include any landing attempts, satellites or passengers.
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Is it certain that the launch will take place today?
Space launches are not guaranteed due to weather delays or technical glitches, but SpaceX has set a target of 8am Central Time.
The flight test window opens an hour prior to the launch.
A notice from the FAA suggests that Tuesday and Wednesday are alternate dates.
Live-streaming of the build-up to and launch will be available on the website.
Musk has predicted that if this week’s test does not go as planned, there will be other tests later in the year.
By the end of the five-year licence granted by the US regulator, NASA will have used Starship for the first 50 years to take astronauts to the surface of the moon via the Artemis program.
DearMoon, a privately-funded mission, also hopes to send a crew on a trip to the moon aboard Starship.