We finally have news about the first flight of SpaceX’s Starship. Elon Musk, the company’s CEO, indeed gave a little hint in a tweet published on Monday, March 21. According to him, the orbital test flight will take place in May, if all goes as planned.
The last time we heard about the date of this first flight, the company had indicated that it would not take place before March of this year. Now, at least we have a date forecast to hang on to.
This first test will mean a lot to SpaceX. It is indeed a demonstration flight which will, hopefully, validate all the technology used by the Starship and by the heavy launcher Super Heavy.
Make way for the new engine
To achieve the launch in May, the company plans to build a fairly large number of new Raptor engines soon. According to Musk, by the end of April, 39 flightworthy engines will be manufactured.
According to the CEO of SpaceX, the company also hopes to operate the first orbital flight with more efficient and more reliable engines, namely the Raptor 2 engines. These represent a new generation of engines, an improved version of the old model. Reportedly, the Raptor 2 has fewer parts but produces higher rated thrust.
Several steps to go through
Before the test flight takes place, SpaceX still has quite a bit to do. Currently, the company already has its first prototype orbital ship in flight condition, Ship 20, which sits at the company’s testing facilities in South Texas. Ship 20 is already placed on its Super Heavy booster and is waiting to pass a number of tests. The week of March 14, the company carried out tests on the fuel tanks of the assembly formed by the vessel and the launcher.
Before the rocket can be launched into orbit, regulators will need to issue a positive report. We are still awaiting the results of the environmental assessment conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration. The publication of this report should be done by March 28 and it is at that time that we will be fixed on the continuation of the operations.