SpaceX chief Elon Musk has announced that its giant Starship rocket system could go orbital for the first time next month if all goes according to plan.
Since last year, SpaceX has been looking to launch the pivotal demonstration flight of its next-generation deep-space transportation system as it aims to fly NASA astronauts to the moon.
"If remaining tests go well, we will attempt a Starship launch next month," Musk tweeted on Saturday in response to a user's tweet about Starship.
Musk had in January said that there was a "real shot" at launching Starship in late February, adding that a March launch attempt appears highly likely.
"We have a real shot at late February. March launch attempt appears highly likely," SpaceX founder and CEO Musk said via Twitter on January 7, in response to speculation that the flight could come as early as January 31.
SpaceX is developing Starship to carry people and cargo to the Moon and Mars, among other jobs.
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The upcoming test flight will lift off from Starbase. It will travel around Earth once and then splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Booster 7 will apparently make a splashdown of its own, in the Gulf of Mexico off the Texas coast.
The orbital trial will be the first Starship test flight since May 5, 2021.
It will be the most powerful launch vehicle ever to fly, capable of lifting 100 tonnes of cargoto low Earth orbit.
Starship is the collective name for a two-component system consisting of the Starshipspacecraft (which carries the crew and cargo) and the Super Heavy rocket. The rocketcomponent will lift Starship to some 65km altitude before separating and returning to Earth.