SpaceX boss Elon Musk estimates the date of Starship’s next test flight

SpaceX’s Super Heavy first stage booster is heading to the launch pad at the Starbase site in Boca Chica, Texas. SpaceX

Elon Musk said on social media on Monday that he expected the third Starship test flight to launch “in about three weeks.”

The SpaceX CEO’s message comes even though there has been no official statement from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding whether they will grant SpaceX launch permission for the flight.

The FAA has launched an investigation into the second Starship test flight, which launched from SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, in November. Like the first flight, which took place seven months earlier in April, the Starship exploded soon after liftoff, even though by then it had successfully achieved separation.

SpaceX clearly expects the FAA to quickly close its investigation and also receive launch authorization for a third uncrewed test flight of its next-generation rocket, a vehicle that is being readied for crewed and cargo flights to the moon, and possibly Mars as well. .

In preparation for launch, SpaceX recently moved both parts of the rocket – the Super Heavy first stage booster and the Starship upper stage spacecraft – to the launch pad at Starbase.

Flight 3 Starship and Super Heavy move to the runway at Starbase

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 10, 2024

Video directly from the site on Monday evening showed the booster on the launch pad with the spacecraft beside it. Preparations appear to be underway to lift the spacecraft onto the booster in preparation for a ground test or even an actual launch.

Boasting 17 million pounds of thrust at liftoff – nearly twice that of NASA’s new Space Launch System rocket – the Starship vehicle became the most powerful rocket ever to fly when it launched for the first time 10 months ago.

But two explosions in two test flights – and a failure to reach orbit – means the rocket is far from ready.

One of the main goals of the next test is to get Starship into orbit. This would be considered a major accomplishment and would bring the SpaceX team one step closer to its goal of deploying the vehicle for innovative missions in the coming years.

If Musk’s prediction of an early March launch turns out to be wrong, then the launch could happen soon after, hopefully in the same month.

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