Elon Musk is confident that Starship will have its first orbital flight this year

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is confident that Starship  will have its first orbital flight this 2022, as part of plans for a return to the Moon in 2025.

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Elon Musk gave an account of the progress in the development of his Starship interplanetary rocket , and was confident that “this year” it will make its first orbital flight. Musk spoke Thursday night in front of guests and reporters at his company’s SpaceX base , called Starbase, near Boca Chica in south Texas, where this impressive rocket is being developed.

He didn’t make any big announcements, though he did list the first projects awaiting Starship : satellite launches and missions to the Moon, including a private one with Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa on board. As a backdrop, the all-black Starship was mounted on its silver booster, dubbed the Super Heavy.

The device is 120 meters high, 9 meters in diameter and will be able to put about 100 tons into orbit. Musk had promised a first orbital test for January or February 2022, but the deadline was exceeded. The company is awaiting authorization from the US Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), which must first study the environmental consequences of its operations. A decision is expected by the end of February.

“I’m optimistic that we’re going to get this clearance,” Musk said.

Moving to Florida

Regardless, SpaceX is preparing to move its operations to Florida if necessary, in which case Starbase would go into research and development. “In the worst case, it will take us six to eight months to build the launch tower at Cape (Canaveral) to take off from there,” he said.

“I am very confident that we will go into orbit this year,” he said.

Starship has already made several suborbital flights: After some tests that ended in impressive explosions in late 2020 and in 2021, SpaceX finally managed to land the ship. But it only reached an altitude of 10 km. NASA is betting that Starship will become the lander for its Artemis program to return to the Moon.

One version of the spacecraft is to be placed in orbit around the Moon, and astronauts arriving aboard their capsule (propelled separately by a rocket) will board it to take them to and from the lunar surface, by 2025 at the earliest.

The big news is that both the Starship and the Super Heavy must be recovered after each flight and be reusable. In this way, each flight will cost “a few million dollars”, in any case “less than ten million”, assured Musk, who estimates that one day there will be a need for hundreds of Starship rockets to transport people to space, based on In mars.

According to him, it is a “life insurance” against the threats that weigh on the Earth. ” Starship will be able to do that: bring a million tons to the surface of Mars and create a self-sufficient city,” he said. And “I think we should do it as soon as possible.”

With information from AFP