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Sun, Dec 30, 2018

SpaceX Says 'Starship' Test Flights Could Begin In April

Preliminary Flights Would Be Suborbital

SpaceX hopes to conduct a preliminary test flight of its Starship concept spacecraft in April, but it will not be the sleek passenger-carrying machine that is depicted in the company's marketing and media materials.

Engadget reports that according to SpaceX founder Elon Musk and company COO Gwynne Shotwell, the first flights will be short-distance suborbital launches similar to the company's "Grasshopper' test program that led to the Falcon 9 rocket. Musk said that the test article will be as wide as the final planned Starship, but not as tall.

Parts are arriving at SpaceX's planned Texas launch facility. Musk and Shotwell had initially announced that the short-hop flights would happen in late 2019, but in a Tweet, Musk said that he is hopeful that the first flight will come in March or April.

What remains an open question is how quickly the test program will proceed following the initial test flights. SpaceX has said that it hopes to have a Starship spacecraft on an orbital test flight in 2020, but that timeline may be somewhat aggressive, observers say.

(Image from file)

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