Elon Musk Reveals Details About Starship’s Next Flight. It’s Not Good News for Those With Little Patience

  • Musk is becoming more realistic about Starship’s schedule.

  • SpaceX has also goals for the next test flight.

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Elon Musk built SpaceX on insane deadlines he set himself. Back in 2008, even though the Falcon 1 had failed three times in three consecutive years, Musk asked his team to assemble a fourth rocket. Instead of giving them another year’s lead time, he ordered them to do it in six weeks. They did it in eight.

Musk is becoming increasingly realistic about Starship’s development. Starship’s development has been advancing at the same, if not more intense, breakneck speed as SpaceX’s other rockets and spacecraft. However, when it comes to Starship, Musk is getting into the habit of being more realistic about launch schedules.

Back in February, Musk posted the following on X: “Starship should be able to make it to the moon in less than 5 years,” a cold shower for those who still believed that the Artemis III mission would take place in 2026, as officially stated by NASA. (The space agency is working on an alternative plan on the down low).

The fourth Starship flight will have to wait. Musk has also made a statement about the fourth Starship test flight, discarding previous projections of a mid-May launch.

According to the SpaceX CEO, it’s “probably three to five weeks” before the Super Heavy (Booster 11) and the Starship (Ship 29) will be ready for launch, let alone be approved by the regulators.

Musk sets a goal for the fourth flight. In a post last week, Musk said the goal of the fourth flight is for Starship to survive atmospheric re-entry, or at least survive the maximum heating phase during the spacecraft’s deceleration due to air friction.

During the previous test flight, Starship 28 successfully reached space with a near-orbital velocity. But when it reentered to the atmosphere 40 minutes later, it didn’t survive the heat and disintegrated. However, its Starlink antennas transmitted live until the last moment.

The Super Heavy will also play a role. Although it's a secondary goal, SpaceX plans to perform a simulated landing of Booster 11 in the Atlantic Ocean on this fourth flight

After separating from the Starship stage, test engineers will set the booster vertically to simulate a landing on a virtual tower in the Gulf of Mexico. This will be a test run before the first landing of the Super Heavy on the tower’s mechanical arms (Mechazilla), hopefully during the fifth flight.

Speaking of the fifth flight, SpaceX could also delay it. Preparations were going well, and the rocket had already performed static fire tests. However, the spacecraft recently experienced electrical problems during a cryogenic pressurization test.

Image | Space X

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