SpaceX aiming for July for Starship orbital launch: Report

(IANS) Elon Musk-run SpaceX is “shooting for July” for the first orbital launch of the company’s Starship vehicle despite lacking the regulatory approvals needed for such a launch, media reports said.

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said the company was pressing ahead with plans for an orbital flight involving the Super Heavy booster and Starship upper stage from the company’s Boca Chica (Texas) test site, Space News reported on Saturday.

“We are headed for our first orbital attempt in the not-too-distant future. We’re shooting for July,” she said.

“I am hoping we make it, but we all know this is difficult. We are really on the cusp of flying that system, or at least attempting the first orbital flight of that system, in the very near term,” she added.

SpaceX last flew a Starship prototype on May 5, with the SN15 vehicle flying to an altitude of 10 km before making a successful landing, a milestone that had eluded four previous prototypes in tests between December 2020 and March 2021, according to the news.

While SpaceX originally appeared to be planning a second suborbital flight of that vehicle, it instead moved the vehicle from the launch pad. Another Starship prototype, SN16, has remained at the production site.

SpaceX has since turned its attention to preparing for the first orbital test flight. In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission on May 13, SpaceX outlined the flight plan for the mission, starting with liftoff off from Boca Chica.

The Super Heavy booster would land in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast from Boca Chica, while Starship would go into orbit but reenter after less than one orbit, splashing down 100 km northwest of the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

Meanwhile, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos recently said that he will fly to the edge of space along with his brother on board his company Blue Origin’s tourism rocket — New Shepard — on July 20.

In a video uploaded on his Instagram profile, Bezos is heard saying that he and his brother Mark will be launching into space on July 20 aboard a rocket built by his space company Blue Origin.

While Blue Origin had, last month, announced to fly its first astronaut crew to space, it did not say that Bezos himself would be taking part.

Bezos further said that taking a journey into space has been a lifelong dream for him and that it will be “meaningful” to have his brother along for the ride.

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