In a document filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Elon Musk’s SpaceX has revealed its plans for the first orbital test flight of its Starship prototype.
According to the document, (h/t: The Verge), SpaceX plans to have its Super Heavy booster fitted Starship craft lift from the company’s facilities in South Texas. Approximately three minutes into the flight, the booster — a massive 230 foot rocket stage — will separate and return to Earth, splashing down about 20 miles off the shores of Texas.
The Starship will then continue into orbit before sailing back through the atmosphere and performing a “powered, targeted landing approximately…62 miles off the northwest coast of Kauai in a soft ocean landing,” the FCC document reads.
If all goes as planned, the entire flight from start to finish should take about 90 minutes to complete, the filings show.
In a tweet, Musk said the Starship prototype will travel three-quarters of the way around the Earth, adding that the ship will re-enter the atmosphere over the ocean in case it gets destroyed upon re-entry.
We need to make sure ship won’t break up on reentry, hence deorbit over Pacific
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 14, 2021
The Elon Musk-led company said it is hoping to “collect as much data as possible during flight” to build upon and improve the Starship prototype.
SpaceX’s orbital flight test would mark the next key development step in the company’s attempt to deliver the first astronauts to the surface of the Moon since 1972 and build a rocket that could one day land on Mars.
The FCC filing didn’t name a specific date for Starship’s orbital flight.