Elon Musk Shares Timeline for Second Starship Launch Attempt

Elon Musk targets a two-month timeframe for the second Starship test flight test. Until then, SpaceX will make launchpad upgrades at Boca Chica and will test the rocket on the pad. The announcement matches previous estimates Musk made immediately after the first test flight.
Elon Musk shares the timeline of the second Starship launch attempt 14 photos
Photo: SpaceX
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On April 20, SpaceX attempted the first orbital flight test with the Starship and Super Heavy launch system. Things didn't go exactly as planned, although they did avoid the worst-case scenario, like the Starship exploding on the launchpad. The world's largest rocket successfully completed the lift-off phase that day, although things went south three and a half minutes into the flight when the separation did not occur, and the rocket was destroyed.

Things learned from that first test flight should make the second attempt less likely to end up in a fireball. Musk earlier revealed that the problems detected with the Booster 7 would be corrected with the Booster 9, which will attempt the next Starship launch into orbit. Another problem that needs to be addressed is the destruction caused to the launchpad. SpaceX did not build a flame diversion system at the Boca Chica launch site, allowing the shockwaves and flames to propel debris into the air.

The upgrades of the launch site are the leading cause of the delays, as Elon Musk confirmed in response to a video shared by SpaceX with exclusive footage from the Starship's first test flight. Musk thinks the launchpad rebuild will take about a month, with another month of rocket testing on the pad before Starship could attempt a second launch. Although the destruction of the launch site was thought to cause a much longer delay, Musk said immediately after the first test that it would take "a couple of months."

The FAA also launched a mishap investigation into Starship's first test mission, grounding the program until a conclusion is reached and the public safety concerns are addressed. This made many believe that the Starship program could suffer further setbacks, with a potential relocation out of Boca Chica after the residents complained about broken windows and ash-like particles covering their homes after the launch.

While the conclusion of the investigation is not yet available, SpaceX has moved quickly to repair the damage and complete the water-cooled flame diverter. The fact that Musk doubles down on his first estimates of "1 to 2 months" shows that the second test flight timeline might have already been set in stone. NASA's Administrator Bill Nelson also confirmed the information during a congressional hearing about the Starship explosion at the end of April.

In an earlier filing with the FCC requesting permission to communicate with the Starship rocket during "Starship test flight 2," SpaceX hinted at a launch attempt after June 15. Elon Musk's comment means the timeline has been pushed back by a month. If all goes according to plan, we could see the Starship flying again in late July.

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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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