WASHINGTON – The Starship mega-rocket, developed by SpaceX and selected by NASA to bring Americans back to the moon, will attempt its first orbital flight early next year. This was announced by Elon Musk speaking at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington. “The first orbital flight, we hope to do it in January,” he said, adding soon after that it could also take place “maybe in February”. “There are many risks associated with this first launch – he added -, so I wouldn’t say it is likely to be successful, but I think we will make a lot of progress”.
Starship has already carried out several suborbital flights: after several tests ended in impressive explosions, SpaceX has finally managed to land the spacecraft, designed to be reusable. For the orbital test, this time around it will be equipped with an ultra-powerful first stage called the Super Heavy. Authorization from the US Federal Civil Aviation Regulator (FAA) is expected “around the end of the year,” Musk said, “we will have completed the launch pad and tower this month, and then we will do a series of check in December. We hope to try about 10 launches and maybe even more next year “.
NASA has chosen Starship to become the lunar lander for its Artemis moon return program. The spacecraft will have to be put into orbit around the Moon in advance, and the astronauts who arrive in their capsule will board to take them to and from the lunar surface, hopefully by 2025. Musk insisted on the role that the “more great rocket ever conceived “:” What we are trying to develop with Starship is – he explained – to equip ourselves with a means to transport large quantities of mass or people anywhere in the solar system “. For Tesla’s patron, it is “extremely important that we try to become a multi-planetary species as soon as possible”. Because “in the end – he concluded – the Earth will become uninhabitable”.