SpaceX is just hours away from attempting the first orbital flight of Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built.
The launch window opens at 7 a.m. local time (5 a.m. PT) for the uncrewed test flight to begin from SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
But in a Space Session on Twitter on Sunday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk would say only that it “could” launch tomorrow, adding that if anything concerns the SpaceX team, it will postpone liftoff.
Musk said, “It’s not like, you know, some sort of train leaving the station at exactly 9:03 or something like that.”
The SpaceX chief said the first stage’s Super Heavy booster has 33 Raptor engines, which will generate a record-breaking 17 million pounds of thrust at launch, and that “if any one of them goes wrong, it’s like a grenade.” It’s like having a box of… you know, really big hand grenades.
Musk went so far as to say that “Kal probably won’t be successful – if being successful means getting to orbit.”
The entire mission should last about 90 minutes. If it goes according to plan, the upper stage of the Starship spacecraft will separate from the Super Heavy booster several minutes into flight. The booster would then come down off the coast of Hawaii while Starship attempted to reach orbit. Again, if the flight proceeds as expected, Starship will come down over the Gulf of Mexico after its orbital journey.
The 395-foot-long (120 m) Starship is a fully reusable transportation system capable of carrying both crew and cargo into Earth orbit. When it is ready, it is likely to be used for missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
Musk and his team will be very happy if the mission goes ahead perfectly, but not too disappointed if it doesn’t. Whatever happens, the incident will provide engineers with a lot of useful data so they can refine the design of the vehicle and its flight systems.
The live webcast of the flight test will begin approximately 45 minutes prior to liftoff. You can watch it using the video player at the top of this page or by visiting spacex youtube channelwhich will carry the same feed.
“As is the case with all development testing, this schedule is dynamic and subject to change, so be sure to stay tuned to our social media channels for updates,” SpaceX said.