SpaceX is preparing for its $3 billion Starship rocket’s first orbital launch — though CEO Elon Musk thinks it has just a 50% chance of making it in one piece.
Musk predicts the rocket will be ready to launch from SpaceX’s facilities in Boca Chica, Texas, within a month once it receives its license from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Musk, however, made no promises that the rocket will be able to reach orbit, joking that even if the launch fails, it would still be a spectacular sight.
“I’m not saying it will get to orbit, but I am guaranteeing excitement,” Musk said during an interview at the Morgan Stanley Conference last Tuesday.
“Won’t be boring!”
“I think it’s got, I don’t know, hopefully about a 50% chance of reaching orbit,” he added.
The not-so-confident figure likely stems from Starship’s previous suborbital test flights, which resulted in ships blowing up.
The test launches began two years ago, with three ships exploding and a fourth sticking the landing before it blew up.
A fifth attempt proved successful after a Starship prototype flew 33,000 feet and was able to land upright and gently on its landing pad.
Should the latest launch attempt fail, the Tesla and Twitter CEO said SpaceX is building more Starship rockets that have about an 80% chance of reaching orbit this year.
Starship is part of SpaceX’s line of vessels poised to be the world’s first fully reusable orbital rockets, with both the ship and its 230-foot-tall booster designed to land themselves back on Earth after the flight.
It would create billions of dollars in cost-cutting measures for future space ventures and move SpaceX one step closer to fulfilling Musk’s ambition for the crafts to carry people and cargo to the moon and Mars.
NASA is also pinning its hopes on a successful Starship voyage, as the agency plans to use the craft to ferry astronauts to the lunar surface in 2025.
NASA has also selected Starship for an uncrewed test touchdown on the moon to prepare for the 2025 launch, the first lunar landing since 1972.