Story at a glance

  • SpaceX outlined plans to launch a Starship rocket atop a Super Heavy booster from its facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
  • The orbital flight around the Earth is scheduled to last about 90 minutes.
  • The Starship will then land off the coast of Hawaii.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has revealed plans to fly a Starship prototype into Earth’s orbit. 

SpaceX over the past year has carried out multiple test flights of its massive Starship rocket. The first four tests ended in fiery explosions upon landing, but the fifth nailed its landing maneuver without exploding last week. 


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The success marked a major milestone in improving the development of a fully reusable spacecraft that could carry both crew and cargo on interplanetary flights. SpaceX is aiming to use the spacecraft to take humans to the Moon and eventually to Mars. 

Now the private rocket company is focusing on its next step in testing the 160 foot tall Starship rocket. 

In a Federal Communications Commission filing, SpaceX outlined plans to launch a Starship rocket atop a Super Heavy booster from its facility in Boca Chica, Texas. The booster will then separate midair about three minutes into the flight and land in the Gulf of Mexico about 20 miles from shore. 

“The Orbital Starship will continue on flying between the Florida Straits. It will achieve orbit until performing a powered, targeted landing approximately 100km (~62 miles) off the northwest coast of Kauai in a soft ocean landing,” the filing said. 

The orbital flight around the Earth is scheduled to last about 90 minutes. 

The company did not list a target date for the Starship program’s first orbital test launch, but Musk has previously said it could happen before the end of the year. 

SpaceX was recently chosen by NASA to develop the spacecraft that will take astronauts to the Moon for the first time since the last Apollo mission. The Artemis mission is expected to launch by 2024. 


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Published on May 14, 2021