SpaceX president warns Starship orbital launch could end in explosion
(ORDO NEWS) — SpaceX is gearing up for the long-awaited first launch into Earth orbit of its fully reusable Starship transport system.
Much will be at stake. In fact, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell says a lot can go wrong during a test run.
“Keep in mind that this first flight is going to be a real test… and the real goal is not to blow up the launch pad,” Shotwell said at a press conference. “That would have been a success.”
Indeed, a massive explosion is tolerable, especially given the many Starship prototypes that SpaceX has destroyed over the past few years.
SpaceX changes approach
Yesterday, February 10, 2023, the Super Heavy Booster 7 completed a full static fire test of 31 engines, delivering less than half the booster’s power.
After the successful test, Shotwell said that instead of betting everything on the first launch attempt, the company focused on first optimizing rocket production.
“There are a lot of little things that need to be done, so we are not focused on the orbital test,” she said, “but we are focused on the production systems that will create the ships.”
The change in priorities is due to the fact that SpaceX has quite a lot of experience in launching payload rockets.
The company has already made significant progress , bringing the day of Starship’s first launch into space closer. For example, last month there was a “dress rehearsal” featuring a fully fueled starship and Super Heavy prototypes.
But before an orbital launch, there is another big hurdle to overcome: getting approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). SpaceX has not yet been certified to launch.
“I think we will be ready to fly as soon as we get the license,” Shotwell said.
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