Elon Musk says SpaceX’s Starship rocket could be ready to launch into space next month

He may have been billed as the most powerful pitcher in the world, but SpaceXThe long-awaited Starship rocket is not yet in orbit.

Plagued by a series of delays, it has taken only a few months since the start of the year to take off, for these hopes to be dashed each time.

Now, Elon Musk thinks his $216m (£189m) ultra-super-heavy rocket could finally launch into space next month, although the famously optimistic billionaire also warned that November “looks very likely”, if October is not starting.

Answer a question about Twitter of when Starship’s first orbital flight could finally take place, he wrote: “At the end of next month perhaps, but November seems very likely.

“We will then have two boosters and ships ready for orbital flight, with full production of about one every two months.”

SpaceX originally planned to launch Starship into orbit in January 2022, but was forced to delay following an environmental assessment of the Boca Chica launch site in Texas.

Elon Musk thinks his Starship rocket could finally launch into space next month, although the famously optimistic billionaire has also warned that November ‘looks very likely’ otherwise

Responding to a question on Twitter about when Starship's first orbital flight might finally take place, he wrote:

Responding to a question on Twitter about when Starship’s first orbital flight might finally take place, he wrote: ‘Maybe late next month, but November seems very likely’

Musk estimates that each Starship launch will cost about $10 million when fully operational, which is considerably less than the $1 billion per launch cost of NASA's new mega-rocket.

Musk estimates that each Starship launch will cost about $10 million when fully operational, which is considerably less than the $1 billion per launch cost of NASA’s new mega-rocket.

STARSHIP AND SUPER HEAVY DUTY LAUNCHER

SpaceX Starship is made up of two stages, the Super Heavy booster and the Starship vehicle on top.

Super Heavy fires and gives Starship the boost it needs to reach orbit.

Once in space, Starship separates and continues its journey, while Super Heavy returns to land on the ground.

It’s designed to be a reusable launch vehicle that could send humans to Mars, according to founder Elon Musk.

A new date of May this year was predicted, but this one slipped again.

The company finally received the green light from the Federal Aviation Administration in June to launch its Starship rocket, but so far the orbital flight has yet to materialize.

The last time the vehicle left the ground was when a prototype craft labeled SN15 performed a high-altitude flight through Earth’s atmosphere and landed without exploding on May 5, 2021.

Since then, SpaceX has been preparing for Starship’s first orbital demonstration flight, which will see the vehicle lift off from a Super Heavy Booster for the first time.

Earlier this week, the massive first-stage booster was launched on the test bed for the first time with the blasting of seven engines.

However, this is less than a quarter of the engines that will make up a fully loaded Super Heavy, designed to be launched with 33 engines in total.

In addition to completing testing, SpaceX will need a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration before it can lift off.

Provided that is granted, Musk hopes to do a “full rehearsal” of the launch and test a 33-engine Super Heavy for the first time in the coming weeks.

NASA has chosen SpaceX to build a lander, based on the Starship spacecraft, that will return humans to the moon this decade as part of the Artemis program.

This will see the next man and woman land on the lunar surface – as well as the first person of color – as early as 2025.

Starship’s first orbital flight will be with Raptor 2 engines, which Musk says are “significantly more capable and reliable” than older models, delivering 230 tons of thrust at sea level.

Starship and the Super Heavy rocket are collectively referred to as Starship and “represent a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the moon, Mars, and beyond,” according to SpaceX.

“Starship will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the capacity to carry over 100 metric tons into Earth orbit,” he added.

To date, the Starship series of rockets have seen nine test flights, some resulting in successful short-range jumps, while others have resulted in explosions or crash landings.

To date, the Starship series of rockets have seen nine test flights – some resulting in successful short-range jumps, while others have resulted in explosions or crash landings.

To date, the Starship series of rockets have seen nine test flights – some resulting in successful short-range jumps, while others have resulted in explosions or crash landings.

The static fire test is crucial to ensure the upper stage is ready for orbital launch.  SpaceX has not yet given a date for the mission

The static fire test is crucial to ensure the upper stage is ready for orbital launch. SpaceX has not yet given a date for the mission

SpaceX's Starship Serial Number 24 (SN24) ignited an intense grass fire after performing an eight-second static fire test in Texas earlier this month.

SpaceX’s Starship Serial Number 24 (SN24) ignited an intense grass fire after performing an eight-second static fire test in Texas earlier this month.

The most recent experimental launch involved the Starship SN15 prototype and took place in May 2021.

The craft completed a flight test at a high altitude of 33,000 feet in low cloud, with a successful climb, engine cutouts, rollover maneuver, flap control and touchdown in candy.

Starship is designed to be fully reusable, with Super Heavy and Starship capable of landing on the pad, ready for use in a future launch.

Musk estimates that each Starship launch will cost around $10m (£8.8m) when fully operational, which is considerably less than the $1bn (£888m) per launch cost of the new NASA mega rocket, SLS.

While Starship has yet to reach orbit, SpaceX already has paying customers for missions to the moon aboard the rocket.

“In 2023, Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa and the crew of dearMoon will become the first civilian passengers on a Starship lunar mission, with a flyby of the moon during their week-long journey,” SpaceX explained.

“This flight is an important step in providing access to people who dream of traveling to space.”

THE SPACEX SHIP TO GO TO THE MOON

SpaceX’s HLS Starship will feature the company’s tested Raptor engines, while drawing inspiration from Falcon and Dragon vehicle designs.

It will include a spacious cabin and two airlocks for astronaut lunar exits.

Design work on the lunar vehicle began in May 2020, and work will now begin to build it entirely under a $2.89 billion contract from NASA.

The initial contract covers an uncrewed demonstration mission and a crewed moon landing in 2025.

It is also planned that future lunar landings will be made using the Starship HLS.

It is fitted with a complement of thrusters used during the final descent and lift-off from the lunar surface.

The final design will have a 100-day lunar orbit loitering capability allowing for more trips to the lunar surface.

It is also designed to carry additional propellant to enable emergency ascent from the moon.

  • Length: 50 m (164 ft 1 in)
  • Lenght: 9 m (29 ft 6 in)
  • Payload: 100–200 t (220,000–440,000 lb)
  • Status: In development
  • First launch: Without crew 2023
  • Apps: Reusable Moon Lander