Could this finally be the big moment that SpaceX fans have been waiting for for many months? After several ambitious announcements from Elon Musk, followed by delays and postponements, Starship’s first orbital flight could take place in early December. The info has been released on the sidelines of a livestream of NASA’s board of directors.
Mark Kirasich, head of development for the Artemis mission, is planning four Starship launches in the coming months – the first to take place in early December. He confirms in passing that it will indeed be the first orbital flight of the machine.
NASA confirms Starship’s first orbital flight will take place in early December
The first launch of the Starship should take place from the site of Boca Chica in Texas, where the firm has so far carried out its first flights and all the static tests of the two stages of the rocket. Three minutes after launch, the booster will detach from the upper stage before returning to Earth somewhere in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico.
The last stage should for its part be put into orbit before its re-entry into the atmosphere and its landing in the vicinity of the Hawaiian archipelago. The entire flight should last a total of 90 minutes. Elon Musk talks about Starship’s first orbital flight in nearly a year and a half. But the event had to be postponed multiple times.
In addition to the development of the rocket itself, SpaceX had to comply with an environmental audit from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which almost prevented the firm from launching rockets from Boca Chica. Finally, the firm reached an agreement with the administration – subject to complying with 75 recommendations supposed to limit the environmental impact of the launch site.
It should also be noted that SpaceX technically does not yet have the necessary license to launch rockets into orbit from its Texas site. However, preliminary steps in this direction are already planned. Including the upcoming static test of the simultaneous ignition of the rocket booster’s 33 Raptor engines, and a canceled launch simulation with all tanks full of fuel.
Once this orbital test has been completed, several test flights will be carried out. In particular, there will be an automated moon landing after an unmanned flight. A test to demonstrate the system’s ability to dock with the Orion capsule will also be conducted around the Moon as part of the Artemis III mission.