SpaceX to ‘Hopefully’ Launch First Starship Orbital Flight in May, Says Elon Musk

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed on Monday that the company will use Raptor 2 engines for the first orbital flight test of its Starship spacecraft, which will “hopefully” be in May.

“We’ll have 39 flightworthy engines built by next month, then another month to integrate, so hopefully May for orbital flight test,” wrote Musk in a tweet.

Starship is an almost 400-foot tall, reusable spacecraft developed by SpaceX to transport both humans and cargo beyond Earth. The rocket is designed to further SpaceX’s goal of putting humans on Mars and its overarching ambition of interplanetary travel.

Musk said Starship will be equipped with Raptor 2 engines for its orbital flight test because “they are much more capable & reliable.” SpaceX’s Raptor 2 engines can generate over 230 tons of thrust at sea level, compared to its predecessor at 185 tons.

Starship SN20 passed its 6-engine static fire test back in November of last year. In February, SpaceX stacked Starship SN20 on top of Super Heavy booster B4 ahead of Musk’s presentation on the future of the spaceship at the company’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

SpaceX last week completed the first propellant load test of the full Starship stack, ensuring propellant load capacity and making sure the configuration is able to withstand in-flight atmospheric pressures and extremely low temperatures. The company continues to inch ever so closer to Starship’s first orbital launch.

SpaceX is still waiting on a license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its planned orbital launch of Starship. Last month, the FAA delayed its review of the launch proposal to March 28.