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SpaceX Anticipates First Starship Launch to Reach Orbit by 2023

Space Company Hopes for December Launch of Flagship Rocket System

A recent NASA Advisory Council meeting has revealed an early December target for the first orbital launch of the SpaceX Starship rocket system. 

The launch would be an important milestone in the company’s efforts to fly NASA personnel to the moon under the Artemis program and beyond. The December mission will test the whole system for the first time, using the 230-foot Super Heavy Booster to carry the smaller Starship spacecraft into orbit. The test flight would see the rocket take off and deliver an uncrewed Starship into orbit before re-entering the atmosphere off the Hawaiian coast for recovery and assessment. Of course, like all SpaceX programs, any number of regulatory or bureaucratic delays could move the anticipated launch date. 

The launch would be a much-needed change for the company as it eyes much meatier, greater contracts with NASA for future manned spaceflight. SpaceX has made effective use of its collection of reusable Falcon 9 rockets, placing commercial satellites, tourists, and astronauts into orbit. While the smaller, more efficient launch system is adequate for those missions, a voyage to Luna and Mars require much greater performance.

The Starship was selected to be the next lander for a manned moon mission in 2021, with a (likely very optimistic) target date of 2025. Before that happens, though, SpaceX has a battery of test flights and practices to prove its product ready for action. 



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