Starship orbital flight: Elon Musk hopes for takeoff in May

Elon Musk talks about an orbital flight of the Starship in May 2022. It’s been almost a year since SpaceX’s prototype rocket took off.

Where is the Starship? That’s the question we ask ourselves, because it’s been almost a year since SpaceX’s spacecraft has not had a new take-off test. The last time was in May 2021 and that went very well: the machine had been able to do a test at high altitude, perform certain maneuvers and land without ending up in a huge ball of fire.

SpaceX Starship flight expected in May

But there could soon be a new excitement around the launch pad: indeed, Elon Musk has described a potential timetable for the Starship: a test during the month of May 2022 could take place. And this test is eagerly awaited, because it is the famous orbital flight that we have been talking about since 2021. It is a question of flying widely over the Earth, starting from Texas to finish not far from Hawaii.

The Starship is to be SpaceX’s future spaceship. He will be his Swiss army knife to do almost everything. In a few years, it will therefore replace the Falcon 9, which is the company’s current rocket to send satellites or astronauts, and the Falcon Heavy, which is a more muscular version of the Falcon 9.

The message from the American entrepreneur, published on March 21, explains that it is not possible to consider a test earlier, for reasons of production – at the level of rocket engines in particular – and integration. Added to this are regulatory constraints, as a green light from the United States Civil Aviation Administration (FAA) must be obtained for such a launch.

The Starship, in black, on the Super Heavy, in grey. // Source: SpaceX

The Starship’s first orbital flight will be made with Raptor 2 engines, as they are much more efficient and reliable. 230 tons of thrust at sea level. We will have 39 flightworthy engines built by next month, then another month for integration, so if possible in May for orbital flight test writes Elon Musk.

If SpaceX has not carried out another flight test for the Starship, the company is not idle: the tests on the engine continue (there was for example the ignition of a new engine in October) , the manufacture of a claw arm to recover the stages returning to Earth and the continuation of the upgrade of two oil platforms to make them spaceports.

Orbital flight will consist of using the rocket with a complete assembly: the upper stage (which is also called Starship, like the launcher as a whole) and the first stage (Super Heavy, which houses the rocket’s main engine). The two components together reach a height of 120 meters. The two parts have also been assembled.

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A projection of Starship // Source: YT/SpaceX

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