Elon Musk Starship update: What to expect from the major announcement
Brace yourselves for liftoff.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to announce plans for a presentation detailing the latest updates to the company's Moon and Mars-bound Starship rocket.
The presentation will take place on Thursday, February 10, at 9 PM ET, more than two years after SpaceX last provided a major update on the launch vehicle, which Musk describes as the "holy grail of rocketry".
SpaceX's Mars-bound behemoth
In August, SpaceX took a big step towards completing its fully reusable launch system by stacking its Starship spacecraft atop a prototype of the Super Heavy Booster. The company has been developing the rocket at its test facility in Boca Chica, Texas, over the last few years, and it has run a series of high-altitude flight tests in recent months — some of which ended in fiery explosions, but all of which provided valuable data. Once it is fully operational, Starship will launch atop a massive Super Heavy booster, taking it to the Moon and eventually Mars.
In 2021, NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to develop Starship as a lander for its future crewed Artemis missions to the Moon. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa also has a mission, called dearMoon, booked with SpaceX to send him and eight artists around the Moon in a Starship rocket, with an estimated launch date set for next year.
What to expect from the Starship presentation and how to watch
The next big step for Starship is an orbital flight test. SpaceX is currently waiting for approval from the FAA to launch Starship into orbit from its Boca Chica facility. With that big milestone approaching, Elon Musk is set to give a presentation on the latest Starship developments. Last Thursday, February 3, on Twitter, Musk pointed out that the presentation will take place "Thursday [Feb. 10] next week at 8pm Texas time."
Thursday next week at 8pm Texas time— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 3, 2022
As Musk puts it in his latest series of tweets, "Starship aspires to be the first fully reusable orbital launch vehicle, the holy grail of rocketry. This is the critical breakthrough needed to make life multiplanetary." He also states that "Starship is in a different league" compared to SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets, which recently passed a milestone of 111 consecutive missions, meaning it has flown more successful missions back-to-back than any orbital rocket in history. Musk says that Starship takes "orders of magnitude more mass to orbit than Falcon," which is "necessary for creating a self-sustaining city on Mars."
Though Musk hasn't revealed any information other than the date and time of the presentation, it will presumably be streamable live from SpaceX's website, as well as from its YouTube channel. No details have been released on what we can expect to see, though we may get a new update on that upcoming orbital flight test. Previous Starship presentations from Elon Musk — the last one came in September 2019 — also detailed design changes to the launch vehicle as well as name changes. The launch vehicle was originally called BFR before it changed to Mars Colonial Transporter and then to its current title of Starship.