Elon Musk said Wednesday that the Starship mega-rocket, developed by his company SpaceX and notably selected by Nasa for the return of Americans to the Moon, would attempt its first orbital flight early next year.
The first orbital flight, we hope to do it in January, he said in an address to scientists at the National Academy of Sciences, before adding later that the test could also take place maybe in February.
There are a lot of risks associated with this first launch, so I wouldn't say it's likely to be successful, but I think we'll make a lot of progress, he added.
Starship has already made several suborbital flights: after several tests ending in impressive explosions, SpaceX had finally managed to land the spacecraft, designed to be reusable.
For this orbital test, it will this time be equipped with an ultra-powerful first stage called Super Heavy.
Authorization from the U.S. federal civil aviation regulator (FAA) is expected around the end of the year, Elon Musk said. We will have the launch pad and tower completed this month, and then we will do a series of checks in December, he detailed.
We hope to attempt about 10 launches next year, the boss also said. Maybe more.