NASA removes SpaceX’s Starship launch calendar placeholder, putting hopes of March orbit flight in doubt

starship stacked
Credit: SpaceX

One of the most anticipated milestones in the modern space industry is the first orbital flight of SpaceX’s Starship. However, it appears the company and its fans will have to wait longer as NASA has quietly removed the placeholder entry for the spaceship’s launch from its calendar, as Observer reports.

The calendar showed a launch date of March 11 but that has now been removed, with no replacement date added.

SpaceX is in the development and testing stage of the massive 394 ft tall Starship which company CEO Elon Musk hopes will take permanent residents to Mars. The spaceship has had numerous tests, with some ending on an explosive note. However, SpaceX has yet to send the multi-stage rocket to orbit. Without this step, the company will not obtain clearance to launch the rocket to space.

Musk and company President Gwynne Shotwell both said a March launch was possible. However, the former is known for his optimism when describing his companies’ projects. This time, though, Musk’s estimate was supported by an entry in NASA’s Airborne Science Program calendar, before its removal.

The NASA program coordinates aircraft used to monitor and record spacecraft activities during tests and actual missions. An entry in the calendar meant NASA was going to operate a tracking plane during the proposed March 11th launch.

SpaceX, however, has never been closer to an orbital launch. It recently fired up 31 out of the Spaceship’s 33 rocket engines during a successful static fire test. But it still needs to obtain a launch license from the FAA.