SpaceX has been betting big on its latest horse-the Starship, and while the world is barely catching on to the technological marvel that is Falcon 9, the Elon Musk led company is ready for the next step. President Gwynne Shotwell announced during a virtual event that SpaceX is aiming to launch the first Starship orbital mission next month.
The ship will take off from the Starship development site in south Texas near Brownsville (known as ‘Starbase’) sometime next month, if everything goes according to plan.
This comes just a few months after the first successful landing of a Starship prototype, after earlier versions exploded on contact with the ground. The company has been conducting smaller ‘hop’ missions, making jumps that take it to somewhere in the Earth’s atmosphere. It took a lot of prototypes to clear that mission, but with that done, SpaceX is ready to take things up a notch.
This will be the first Starship mission that aims to reach into orbit. However, unlike the previous prototype launches, SpaceX will not attempt to land the ship this time. Instead, it is aiming for a safe splash in the Pacific Ocean somewhere off the cost of Hawaii. This is because in this mission, the company’s goal is just to reach orbit. Landing, which is a big part of SpaceX’s product suite, will be taken care of in another mission.
Over subsequent tests and trials, the company will aim to make the entire rocket reusable, much like its predecessor Falcon 9.
Shotwell thinks that the company is already prepared for this next step. All that is left is approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), after which, the company will be all set to take flight next month.