Elon Musk says Starship orbital test flight could happen on April 20, pending FAA approval

starship stacked
Credit: SpaceX

Elon Musk has announced SpaceX will be ready for the first Starship orbital test flight “in a few weeks,” leaving approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as the last remaining hurdle to cross before we hopefully see Starship take to the skies.

A Starship orbital launch has been on the docket since 2021 but delays from the FAA and the ongoing development of Starship and in particular the Raptor 2 engines has delayed the launch. The most recent update from SpaceX put a potential launch in March, with a placeholder penciled in on NASAs launch calendar. That date which was eventually removed, ending hopes of an orbital test flight.

The wait may finally be over, but when exactly the launch takes place will soon be in the hands of the FAA. In a tweet on Thursday night Musk said SpaceX will be done their part “in a few weeks,” after which the timing of an orbital test flight will depend on when the FAA gives their stamp of approval. Musk said that approval could come towards the end of the third week of April, which just so happens to be April 20, or 4/20, a number that has become synonymous with the CEO.

The orbital test flight will be a significant milestone for SpaceX and the Starship project. The test flight will involve launching the Starship into orbit from SpaceX’s launch site in Boca Chica, Texas. The spacecraft will then perform a series of maneuvers and tests before returning to Earth for a controlled landing off the coast of Hawaii.

The Starship project has already undergone several successful test flights, including high-altitude flights that have tested the spacecraft’s ability to land safely. However, an orbital test flight will be a much more challenging and complex mission, requiring the spacecraft to travel at high speeds and altitudes while performing a range of maneuvers.

Musk has put the chance of a success flight at around 50%, meaning there is also a 50% chance Starship will explode, either on the launch pad or during its ascent into orbit. Whatever happens Musk has guaranteed it will be exciting,

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