The milestone launch date is near for SpaceX's Starship, and if no new large problem presents itself between now and next week, we will see Starship attempt its very first orbital launch.
SpaceX has been preparing for this moment for quite some time, as development for Starship's first orbital flight test has been a strenuous road paved with many hindering issues. However, that road appears to be coming to an end as the company's CEO Elon Musk announced via his personal Twitter account that, based on development trends, Starship is eyeing its first orbital test for the third week of April - next week.
Musk has been talking about Starship's first orbital launch for months now, and in August 2022, the SpaceX CEO sat down for an interview on the Nelk Podcast, where he explained that Starship is the largest flying object ever made and that there is a real risk of the launch failing in a disappointing, but epic, explosion. Regardless of the possibilities of failure, movements at SpaceX's Starbase facility located in South Texas indicate the company is just about ready to give it their first crack as technicians last week stacked the Ship 24 upper-stage prototype on top of its Booster 7 first stage.
The SpaceX CEO, nor the company, gave a specific date for the first orbital launch attempt, but it's likely that Musk is attempting to land the launch date on April 20, or 4/20 - as a nod to the popular cannabis holiday that he has previously joked about. While Musk may want to launch Starship on a 'funny' date, the space fairing company will first need to get approval from the U.S Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which will grant an orbital launch license if SpaceX has reached all requirements.
When Starship reaches all necessary requirements for launch, SpaceX will engage all 33 new Raptor engines generating a stunning 16.5 million pounds of thrust, which, if successful, will make Starship the most powerful rocket in history. Additionally, Starship is the largest rocket ever made, standing an astonishing 394 feet tall when fully stacked.
The idea behind Starship's enormity is to be able to provide a viable means of transportation to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. SpaceX has designed Starship to be capable of carrying 100 tons of cargo, meaning humans won't have to perform multiple landings on the Moon or Mars to set up a base. If SpaceX can pull off Starship's first orbital test flight, the company will have taken its first step toward getting humans on the surface of Mars.