SpaceX has finally completed its first fully integrated Starship flight test after months of delay and launched a scrub earlier in the week, albeit not as smoothly as it would have liked. The combination of Starship and a Super Heavy booster lifted off from SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas facility at 9:34 a.m. ET after a brief hold, but failed to separate and plunged into a failed flip maneuver before blasting off.
CEO Elon Musk previously told enthusiasts to temper their expectations. The Starship flight was to collect data for future enhanced voyages. As SpaceX explained during its livestream, the only objective was to clear the launchpad — anything beyond that was just a bonus. The company cleared the first attempt due to a frozen pressurized valve.
SpaceX has not yet said when it will attempt its next flight. The organization says it can produce more than one starship at a time, so the delay won’t necessarily be long.
Starship and the Super Heavy together are 394 feet long, or longer than a Saturn V rocket. The 39 total Raptor engines (33 in the booster, six in Starship) are powerful enough to haul payloads of up to 330,000lbs to low Earth orbit when fully reusable, and 550,000lbs when expendable. For context, even the Falcon Heavy can ‘only’ bring 141,000 lbs to that orbit. New rocketry allows missions that were not possible before, including eventual trips to the Moon and Mars that require extensive fuel and supplies.
Success with the next test is important given the timing for both SpaceX’s own plans and NASA’s exploration efforts. SpaceX is relying on Starship for lunar tourism and other commercial flights. NASA’s Artemis moon landing, currently scheduled to begin in December 2025, will rely on rockets to reach the surface and return astronauts to the Orion capsule for the journey home. The sooner SpaceX can prove Starship is viable, the better its chances of reducing further delays.