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Elon Musk: SpaceX Could Launch First Starship Orbital Flight In February

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If everything goes as planned, SpaceX’s huge Starship could go into orbit for the first time next month.

SpaceX has been prepping for months for the first-ever orbital test flight of Starship, its next-generation deep-space transportation system. The company may be nearing the end of this kind of preparation work, which could mean that Starship could start up in about six weeks.

“There’s a good chance it will be late February. March seems like a good time to try to launch, “Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, said on Twitter on Saturday, January 7 (opens in new tab), in response to rumours that the flight could happen as soon as January 31.

SpaceX is making Starship, which will, among other things, take people and things to the moon and Mars. The huge vehicle has two parts, both of which are made to be fully reusable. The first part is a huge booster called Super Heavy, and the second part is a 165-foot-tall (50-meter-tall) spaceship called Starship.

For the upcoming orbital test flight, it looks like Booster 7, a Super Heavy prototype, and Ship 24, a Starship variant, will be used. At its Starbase facility in South Texas, SpaceX has been putting both prototypes through a number of tests.

For example, both Booster 7 and Ship 24 have done “static fire” tests, which involve starting their Raptor engines while they are anchored to the ground. Ship 24 has turned on all of its six Raptors at the same time, while Booster 7 has turned on up to 14 of its 33 engines at the same time.

This last number shows that SpaceX still has some work to do before the launch into orbit. Musk has said that before Booster 7 goes into space, the company will do a full static fire of all 33 engines.

Starbase will be the place where the next test flight will leave from. Ship 24 will go once around the Earth and then land in the Pacific Ocean near the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Apparently, Booster 7 will splash down on its own in the Gulf of Mexico near the Texas coast.

This will be the first test flight for the Starship since May 5, 2021. On that day, SN15, a Starship prototype with three engines, flew about 6.2 miles (10 km) into the Texas sky and landed safely at Starbase.

Like all of the other test flights of Starship prototypes, SN15 took off on its own. When Booster 7 and Ship 24 take off, it will be the first time a Super Heavy vehicle has flown.

Info source – Space

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