SpaceX completed their first fully integrated Starship launch last month, but CEO Elon Musk and the rest of the company is not taking much time to celebrate. According to Musk the company could attempt a second Starship orbital test flight in a matter of weeks.
In a Twitter Spaces chat over the weekend Musk reiterated that despite the fact Starship did not reach order and blew up a few minutes after launch, the test flight was a success and they were able to gather a lot of data that will help them on their next attempt. Despite what appeared to be heavy damage to the launch pad from the 30 Raptor 2 engines, Musk said the damage was “actually quite small” and the next launch attempt could happen in a little as six to eight weeks.
The most significant obstacle for the next test flight to occur in six to eight weeks however is likely to be the requalification of the Autonomous Flight Termination System (AFTS) responsible for destroying the rocket. Musk stated that it took too long for it to detonate, with Starship exploding about 40 seconds after they pressed the button.
While Musk’s expectations for the first test flight were for it to clear the launch tower, he has much higher expectations for the second attempt. “My expectations for the next flight would be to reach orbit,” he said on Twitter. (via CNBC) If that doesn’t happen, he said there is a “close to 100% chance” of reaching orbit within 12 months.
These multiple test flights will not be cheap, as Musk also explained during his conversation on Twitter Spaces that he expects the company will spend about $2 billion on Starship development in 2023. Much of that money will go towards building multiple Starships prototypes, and the accompanying Super Heavy Boosters, and of course making changes to them based on the learnings from the first, and subsequent, test flights.
Despite the high price tag, SpaceX has enough money to fund the program and will not need to raise additional funding, according to Musk.
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