SpaceX Starship update: First orbital flight could happen in March

starship update
Credit: SpaceX

For the first time in two years, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk provided an update on the company’s Starship program during a live webcast from Boca Chica, Texas.

With the massive Super Heavy booster and launch tower serving as the backdrop, Musk revealed the latest developments in the program, including new details about the Raptor 2 engine, and when we might see the first Starship orbital test flight.

Raptor 2

SpaceX has not only been able to greatly reduce the complexity of the Raptor engine, but at the same time they have also been able to increase its thrust.

The difference in complexity is immediately visible when seeing the two engines side by side. That simplification has also resulted in significant financial savings, with Raptor 2 costing about half as much to build as the original Raptor 1.

Making the changes even more impressive, the new engine also has 230 tons of thrust at sea level, up from the 185 tons for Raptor 1.

First Starship Orbital Flight

SpaceX was hoping to have the first Starship orbital test flight last year, but they are still waiting for approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Musk said last night he expects that could come in March, adding the rocket should be ready when they get the green light.

However, he also said the FAA could request more information before granting approval, which could force SpaceX to move the launch site to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

If that happens, the flight could be delayed by more than six months.

You can watch the full update below.

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