SpaceX Starship's next launch 'probably 3 to 5 weeks' away, Elon Musk says


We’re likely still a month or so away from the next launch of SpaceX’s Starship megarocket.

That was the timeline Elon Musk offered in a post on X over the weekend, saying Starship’s next test flight is “probably 3 to 5 weeks” away. “Objective is for the ship to get past max heating, or at least further than last time,” the billionaire entrepreneur added.

The 400-foot-tall (122 meters) Starship is the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built. It consists of two elements, both of which are designed to be fully and rapidly reusable: a huge first-stage booster called Super Heavy and a 165-foot-tall (50 m) upper stage known as Starship, or simply “Ship.”

Related: Relive SpaceX Starship’s 3rd flight test in breathtaking photos

view of three rockets in an assembly building

view of three rockets in an assembly building

A fully stacked Starship has flown three times to date, on each occasion from SpaceX’s Starbase site in South Texas — in April 2023, November 2023 and March 14 of this year. The giant vehicle has performed better with each successive flight.

During the debut liftoff, for example, Starship’s two stages failed to separate as planned, and SpaceX detonated the tumbling vehicle just four minutes after liftoff. Flight 2 achieved stage separation, but both Super Heavy and Ship broke apart early, ending the mission after eight minutes.

On Flight 3, Super Heavy successfully steered its way into position for a planned Gulf of Mexico splashdown but broke apart about 1,650 feet (500 m) above the waves. Ship reached orbital velocity and flew for nearly 50 minutes, though it ultimately succumbed to the violent forces of frictional heating when reentering Earth’s atmosphere.

As he noted in his X post, Musk wants Ship to do even better on the upcoming Flight 4.

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SpaceX has been gearing up for Flight 4 for a while now. The company has already conducted static fire tests for both the Super Heavy and the Ship assigned to the mission, briefly igniting their Raptor engines while the vehicles remained anchored to the pad at Starbase. SpaceX also recently rolled Flight 4’s Super Heavy back to the pad, presumably for more testing, a move the company chronicled in a post on X on Saturday (May 11).

However, there may still be logistical hurdles to clear; SpaceX still needs to secure a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is overseeing an investigation into what happened on the March 14 flight.





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