SpaceX's huge new Starship vehicle could launch on its first-ever orbital test flight a little over a month from now, if all goes according to plan.
SpaceX is now tentatively eyeing mid- to late April for that epic mission, which will lift off from the company's Starbase facility in South Texas.
"SpaceX will be ready to launch Starship in a few weeks, then launch timing depends on FAA license approval. Assuming that takes a few weeks, first launch attempt will be near end of third week of April, aka …," SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said via Twitter on Thursday(opens in new tab) (March 16), referring to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
The "aka..." bit, by the way, is presumably a nod to the possibility that Starship could launch on April 20, which is a sort of holiday for cannabis culture. Musk is fond of making 4/20 references and jokes
Starship consists of a giant first-stage booster called Super Heavy and a 165-foot-tall (50 meters) upper-stage spacecraft known as Starship. Both stainless-steel vehicles are designed to be fully and rapidly reusable, and both are powered by SpaceX's next-gen Raptor engine — 33 for Super Heavy and six for Starship.
Starship has flown before, but only on short hops that reached a maximum of 6 miles (10 kilometers) or so above Earth. And those vehicles were upper-stage prototypes sporting three or fewer Raptors; no Super Heavy variant has ever left the ground.