Elon Musk’s SpaceX is “shooting for July” to launch the first orbital spaceflight of its Starship rocket, company president Gwynne Shotwell said Friday.
“I’m hoping we make it, but we all know that this is difficult,” Shotwell said, speaking at the National Space Society’s virtual International Space Development conference.
“We are really on the cusp of flying that system, or at least attempting the first orbital flight of that system, really in the very near term,” Shotwell added.
SpaceX has conducted multiple short test flights of Starship prototypes over the past year, but reaching orbit represents the next step in testing the rocket. The company in May revealed its plan for the flight, which would launch from the company’s facility in Texas and aim to splash down off the coast of Hawaii.
Starship prototypes stand at about 160 feet tall, or around the size of a 16-story building, and are built of stainless steel – representing the early version of the rocket that Musk unveiled in 2019. The rocket initially launches on a “Super Heavy” booster, which makes up the bottom half of the rocket and stands about 230 feet tall. Together, Starship and Super Heavy will be nearly 400 feet tall when stacked for the launch.