Musk planning orbital Starship launch as early as January, hints potential failure

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SN 20 at Boca Chica Site – Aug. 5, 2021 | 📷 Gage Divin

HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — During a video conference held Wednesday with the National Academy of Science Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine SpaceX founder and chief engineer, Elon Musk, spoke regarding the Starship Super Heavy project being developed in South Texas.

The Starship Super Heavy project is well underway at the south Texas launch facility, Starbase. The project goal, according to Musk, is to create a reusable spacecraft capable of taking 100 metric tons of payload into orbit and beyond, with the ultimate goal of making humans a multi-planetary species and “preserving the light of consciousness”. Musk estimates that it would take a fleet of 1,000 Starship spacecraft in order to achieve that goal.

The first of such Starships is being developed at the Starbase launch site, just outside Brownsville, Texas along the U.S. Mexico border.

Over the past year, the project has moved at a rapid pace. Five suborbital tests have been completed within the year’s timeframe from Starbase. Only one of those tests successfully landed a Starship prototype back in early May of this year; the previous prototypes resulted in RUDs.

Musk set an ambitious goal of sending the first complete Starship and Super Heavy booster into orbit that following July, but the timeline was not met. By August, Musk was able to show the world a fully stacked Starship for the first time.

Wednesday, Musk told a virtual panel that he expects the first Starship orbital flight to happen in early 2022.

“The first orbital flight, we’re hoping to do in January,” said Musk.

Musk says the aerospace company plans on testing the SN20 rocket and BN4 booster throughout the rest of the year in preparation for the test flight.

Being that this is the first of many test flights, Musk advised to not expect success.

“There’s a lot of risk associated with this first launch, so I would not say that it is likely to be a successful, but we’ll make a lot of progress,” said Musk.

Repetitive explosions over the Boca Chica wildlife sanctuaries have sparked outrage amongst the local environmental community.

Following the SN11 launch and explosion, debris remained scattered across the protected surrounding mudflats for several weeks, causing disruptions in the terrain used by endangered species.

The voices of these concerned environmentalists and local residents were heard during a virtual hearing with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The hearing was intended to allow the public to voice their opinions about SpaceX activity in the area and potentially influence the FAA’s decision on whether or not to grant SpaceX the necessary permits to operate Starship.

Musk’s orbital plans are contingent on getting the necessary permits. The FAA is expected to complete its environmental review by December 31 of this year.

“The overarching goal at SpaceX has been to advance space technology such that humanity can become a multiplanet species and ultimately a spacefaring civilization,” said Musk.

Read more about SpaceX here.

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