Elon Musk: Starship has a 50/50 chance of reaching orbit on first try

"I'm not saying it will get to orbit but I am guaranteeing excitement".
Chris Young
Super Heavy during a recent static fire test.
Super Heavy during a recent static fire test.

SpaceX / Flickr 

SpaceX is nearing the first orbital launch attempt of its Starship prototype.

Starship is part of the private space firm's plans to eventually send humans to Mars by drastically cutting launch costs with a fully reusable megarocket. Before reaching the red planet, the rocket, which is poised to become the world's most powerful operational rocket, will also send humans to the moon for the first time since 1972.

On a call with Morgan Stanley on Tuesday, March 7, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said "Hopefully in the next month or so we'll have our first [orbital launch] attempt."

SpaceX prepares for first orbital Starship launch attempt

SpaceX successfully completed a full flight-like wet dress rehearsal of Starship in late January, leading Musk to state that the private space firm would likely make an orbital launch attempt in February or March.

It's now more than 18 months since a Starship prototype last lifted off as part of a series of high-altitude flight and landing tests beginning in 2021. Those test flights were never intended to go to orbit, though they did lead to a few explosive landing attempts as well as a series of impressive belly flop maneuvers.

The upcoming orbital test flight will be the first time SpaceX attempts to reach orbit with Starship. It will also be the first time the company launches its Super Heavy booster, which is the first stage that will propel the Starship upper stage to orbit.

Elon Musk: Starship launch attempt "won't be boring"

"I'm not saying it will get to orbit but I am guaranteeing excitement," Musk said during the call, as per Forbes, in a remark that echoed a recent tweet of his regarding Starship. “It won’t be boring."

Musk's latest comments reflect the challenge of getting a spacecraft to orbit for the first time. Back in 2008, in fact, SpaceX was very close to bankruptcy before it finally reached orbit for the first time with the fourth launch of its Falcon 1 rocket.

"This is a very difficult program," Musk added during the Morgan Stanley call. "Hopefully (it has) above a 50 percent chance of reaching orbit." Musk also mentioned that he believes Starship has an 80 percent chance of reaching orbit this year. However, it may be a few years before the Starship program can achieve full reusability, which Musk described as "the profound breakthrough that is needed to extend life beyond Earth."

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