October 6, 2023
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says he is hopeful that the company’s Starship spacecraft will have a “decent chance” of success on its upcoming second test flight. Musk spoke about Starship, a huge reusable rocket system aiming for a new near-orbital flight in the near future, in a keynote address on Thursday at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Baku, Azerbaijan.
“I think we’ve got a decent chance of reaching orbit,” Musk said of the upcoming flight. “Technically, it’s a ‘scooch’ blow orbit because it’s going to do almost to complete circle of the Earth, but then splashdown someone somewhere in the Pacific, just off the coast of Hawaii,” he added.
Starship’s first test flight in April ended in an explosion after the spacecraft failed to slow down properly upon landing. However, Musk said that SpaceX has since made dozens of changes to Starship, the launch tower, and the pad system in an effort to address the issues that led to the failure.
One of the key changes is to the stage separation system. Musk said that SpaceX has completely changed the system in order to make it more reliable. He also said that the company has made improvements to the heat shield, which has not yet been tested in flight.
Despite the changes, Musk acknowledged that there is still a risk of failure on the upcoming flight. “It’s still a test flight,” he said. “But I think we’ve got a decent chance of success.”
If the upcoming test flight is successful, it will be a major milestone for SpaceX. Starship is designed to be a fully reusable spacecraft that can transport humans and cargo to the Moon, Mars, and other deep space destinations. Musk has said that he hopes to begin flying Starship to Mars in the next few years.
SpaceX is currently awaiting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct the upcoming test flight. The FAA is conducting an environmental review of the launch at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas. The review is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.