SpaceX is aiming to launch the Super Heavy rocket and Starship spacecraft — collectively known as the Starship — on Friday after receiving clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
It will be the second uncrewed test flight for the Starship following an effort in April in which it failed to reach orbit. In that flight, an anomaly occurred several minutes after liftoff, forcing mission controllers to destroy the rocket in midair.
This time, SpaceX engineers will be hoping that they have done enough to ensure that the spacecraft reaches orbit for the very first time.
The Starship flight system could one day be used for crewed flights to the moon, Mars, and other celestial bodies in deep space. But first, SpaceX needs to prove it can reach orbit.
Using its 33 Raptor engines, the Starship will pack a colossal 17 million pounds of thrust at launch — more than double that of the Saturn V, which created around 7.6 million pounds of thrust during launches that sent the Apollo astronauts toward the moon five decades ago, and almost double that of NASA’s new SLS moon rocket, which creates around 8.8 million pounds of thrust as it lifts off.
All eyes will be on whether the Starship spacecraft is able to successfully separate from the Super Heavy, a crucial maneuver that it failed to complete during the flight in April. If it does, Starship will continue on to orbit while the Super Heavy booster will come down in the Gulf of Mexico.
At the end of its orbital trip, the Starship will come down in waters off Hawaii, though future flights will aim to land both the rocket and the spacecraft so that they can be used for multiple missions.
SpaceX will launch the Starship from its Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, on Friday, November 17.
Be sure to check SpaceX’s social media feeds ahead of launch to learn of any late changes to the schedule.