SpaceX First Starship Launch Expected in December

NASA announced that SpaceX would be ready to launch the first orbital flight of its Starship vehicle as soon as early December. It is an essential part of the agency’s Artemis lunar exploration plans.

According to Mark Kirasich, deputy associate administrator for Artemis Campaign Development at NASA, the agency pays attention to the progress on the testing of the Starship vehicle, especially on its Super Heavy booster. “Right now, the schedule would lead to an early December test flight,” he said. The progress would be the same as the company previously detailed in the regulatory filling, lifting off from the Boca Chica, Texas, test site. The Starship would go into orbit and splash down near Hawaii after completing less than one orbit.

During a spin prime test on July 11 that SpaceX suffered a “high-energy event” when propellants ignited underneath the booster and damaged it. Although SpaceX has repaired the booster and implemented corrective actions, that incident attracted the attention of NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel. This caused a “pause and learn” event for SpaceX for it to slow down and deal with risk management rigor.

There will be three more major Starship flights in the future. Starting with this first orbital launch, followed by a propellant transfer test in space and a “longer duration” Starship mission. The fourth mission is expected for late 2024 about an uncrewed lunar landing.