Musk Likes Odds Of SpaceX's Starship To Reach Orbit If It Doesn't Blow Itself Up
Elon Musk says he believes Starship has a "decent" chance of reaching orbit during its upcoming second test flight. The first launch attempt ended with Starship ablaze on April 20, 2023.
On what would be a fitting day, Starship made its first launch attempt on 4/20/2023. Musk and SpaceX considered the launch a success, even after the spacecraft had to set itself ablaze minutes into the flight. Following the event, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported an "anomaly" occurred during Starship's ascent and before stage separation, resulting in the loss of the spacecraft. Not to be deterred, Musk and SpaceX have been preparing for the second launch attempt, saying that Starship's engines will be lit while it is still connected to the booster this go-round.
In an interview with the International Astronautical Federation, Musk commented on lighting the engines while still connected to the booster, "Of course, it's the first time we're doing it. And I'd say that's the riskiest part of flight two." He added, "If the engines light and the ship doesn't blow itself up during stage stuff, then I think we've got a decent chance to reach orbit."
Starship is considered a critical part of NASA's plans to put humans back on the moon and Musk's hope of sending humans to Mars. While Musk said last month that Starship is "ready to launch," again, no date has been set to do so yet.
According to Musk, "more than a thousand changes" have been made to Starship since its first launch. This is probably why the SpaceX CEO only gives Starship a 60% chance of reaching orbit during its second attempt.
In an interview with Insider, Abhi Tripathi, former mission director for SpaceX's Dragon spaceship, remarked that Musk is "usually not as optimistic" as he is about the upcoming second launch. Tripathi said he would consider the second test flight a success if two things happened, "One, the damage to the launch mound and ground infrastructure is minimal, and two, at least 32 of the 33 engines stay lit."
A lot is riding on the second test flight of Starship, as NASA has said it is keeping a close eye on its progress. The space agency said in August that SpaceX still needs to meet NASA's Artemis 3 guidelines. Still, if not, the agency is prepared to fly a non-landing mission for Artemis 3 and delay touchdown to at least Artemis 4.