SpaceX is gearing up for its first orbital test flight of the highly anticipated Starship launch vehicle that is poised to be Earth's mode of transportation to the Moon and eventually Mars.
Elon Musk, the SpaceX CEO and founder, recently took to Twitter to give some updated details on Starship's development and when the public can expect the massive rocket to conduct its first orbital test flight. Musk shared details on SpaceX's plans for Starship and how the company is currently going through rigorous testing of Booster 7, which will be used in Starship's first stage. It was only earlier in the week that SpaceX tested seven of its Raptor 2 engines in a static fire test at its Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas.
Booster 7, when equipped to Starship, will feature thirty-three of these Raptor 2 engines, and judging by SpaceX's progress and the comments from Musk, it seems that Booster 7 will be what Starship uses in its first orbital test flight. Leading up to the launch, SpaceX will be making several improvements to Booster 7 that will increase its reliability while simultaneously adding protections to the engines in case of a malfunction. It should be noted that the Raptor engines are the most expensive part of the rocket.
Musk revealed a tweet that the SpaceX team is currently focussing on reliability upgrades for flight on Booster 7, while also completing Booster 9, which the SpaceX CEO reveals has undergone many "design changes, especially for full engine RUD isolation."
The SpaceX CEO also touched on when the first orbital test flight is expected to happen, and according to Musk, next month seems to be the current target, particularly, late next month. Musk wrote in a tweet reply that "November seems highly likely" as the company will have two boosters and ships ready for orbital flight by November. Additionally, Musk said that SpaceX will be able to produce a full stack of Starship once every two months.
In other space news, NASA is about to collide with an asteroid next week in a test that may one day be used to save Earth from destruction. NASA's DART mission is scheduled to collide with its target asteroid within the coming days.