SpaceX stacking giant Super Heavy rocket ahead of Starship orbital flight test (photo)

SpaceX is gearing up for probably the most bold test flight but of its Starship Mars rocket.

Last month, a Starship prototype aced a high-altitude test flight for the first time, hovering about 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) into the skies above SpaceX’s “Starbase” web site in South Texas after which touching down safely again on the facility. (Four different Starship test autos had tried this uncrewed hop within the earlier 5 months, however none of them managed to stay the touchdown.) 

Even earlier than attaining that milestone, nonetheless, SpaceX had began planning out the primary Starship flight to Earth orbit. In March, for instance, firm founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted that SpaceX was targeting July for that landmark trial, which would require each parts of the reusable Starship system — the 165-foot-tall upper-stage spaceship, referred to as (considerably confusingly) Starship, and the large first-stage booster generally known as Super Heavy. 

Related: SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy rocket in pictures

Super Heavy was not concerned within the 6.2-mile-high flight; that May 5 jaunt employed only a prototype Starship higher stage, one outfitted with three of SpaceX’s next-generation Raptor engines. (The last Starship spacecraft will sport six Raptors and Super Heavy about 30 of them, Musk has mentioned.) 

In mid-May, we discovered the details of the coming orbital test, because of a doc filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that was first reported by The Verge

The plan is that this: The Super Heavy-Starship duo will raise off from Starbase, and the large first-stage booster will come down about six minutes later within the Gulf of Mexico about 20 miles (32 km) off the Texas coast. The higher stage will make its way to Earth orbit, in the end returning for a smooth splashdown about 62 miles (100 km) off the northwest coast of the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

Construction of the Super Heavy that will probably be concerned in that flight is outwardly properly underway. On Tuesday (June 15), for instance, Musk tweeted a photo displaying two items of the large rocket about to come back collectively.

“Stacking Super Heavy aft section,” Musk wrote. 

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SpaceX has not introduced a particular goal date for the orbital test, however early July could be off the desk at this level. An environmental evaluation of Starship launch operations is at present being carried out, CNN Business reported on Wednesday(June 16).

“Depending on the outcome of that assessment, it may also be required to go through a more detailed review culminating in an updated Environmental Impact Statement. Only after that process is complete can the Federal Aviation Administration move on to licensing a possible orbital Starship launch,” CNN Business’ Jackie Wattles wrote.

“Those reviews and approvals will not be done in time for an early July launch, according to a source familiar with the licensing process,” she added.

Whenever the orbital test occurs, will probably be fairly an occasion. Stay tuned!

Mike Wall is the writer of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a e book concerning the seek for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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