Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans first Starship orbital flight
The flight could happen as early as later this year or as late as March 2022.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has revealed its plans for the first orbital test flight of its 160-foot Starship rocket in a filing to the Federal Communications Commission made public on Thursday.
According to the plans, the test flight will originate from the company’s Boca Chica, Texas facilities. The booster stage will separate around three minutes into flight and land in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 20 miles from the shore.
The Starship will then continue flying between the Florida Straights and achieve orbit until performing a powered, targeted landing roughly 62 miles of the northwest coast of Kauai “in a soft ocean landing,” the filing says.
Starship Orbital Launch Attempt details per FCC exhibit:
– Staging 170 seconds into flight
– Booster will splashdown in the Gulf 20 miles downrange
– Starship will perform a soft landing 62 miles northwest of Kauaihttps://t.co/2qBHS6pj73 pic.twitter.com/TlVae0YCBI
— Michael Baylor (@nextspaceflight) May 13, 2021
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The entire flight is expected to last around 90 minutes. The maximum altitude reached by the Starship is expected to be around 72 miles.
The document did not name a specific date for the test flight. Musk and SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell have said previously that it could happen as early as later this year or as late as March 2022.
SpaceX said its goal with the orbital flight will be to learn more about entry dynamics and get a better understanding of what the vehicle experiences in a flight regime. SpaceX said the data gathered will be applied to vehicle design and allow the company to design better models for its use in internal simulations.
The FCC filing comes after SpaceX successfully landed its fifth test flight test earlier this month. The uncrewed SN15 Starship launched from SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility. During the six-minute flight, the spacecraft rocketed upward, conducted a “belly flop” maneuver and finally righted itself before landing vertically.