SpaceX might conduct Starship’s first orbital test flight in a few weeks from today. According to a CNBC report, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell told those at the online International Space Development conference that the company was “shooting for July” when planning the orbital trip.
Gwynne was aware of the challenges, but said that her firm was “really on the cusp” of that key journey.
The current orbital flight plan has a Starship prototype launching from Boca Chica, Texas, and dropping its Super Heavy booster stage into the Gulf of Mexico after roughly three minutes. The spacecraft would enter orbit and make a soft water landing near Hawaii after a total time of about 90 minutes.
As before, this assumes no major complications — and that’s been SpaceX’s greatest issue so far. The private spaceflight firm lost numerous Starship prototypes before sticking the landing in May.
While these included high-altitude flights, orbit has its own share of risks. While some of the main difficulties are in the past, there’s no guarantee the refinements made since then will guarantee a smooth trip this time around.