SpaceX Rolls Starship SN24 onto Launch Pad Ahead of Planned Orbital Flight

Image: SpaceX on Twitter

SpaceX this week wheeled the latest iteration of its Starship spacecraft, SN24, onto a launch pad at its ‘Starbase’ launch site in Boca Chica, Texas. This is the first new Starship prototype we’ve seen in nine months, as well as the company’s first-ever Orbital Class Starship.

Starship is the spacecraft SpaceX hopes will one day haul humans and cargo to Mars and enable interplanetary travel. Before it takes anyone to Mars, Starship is slated to carry astronauts back to the moon as part of at least two different missions for NASA.

With SN24 now on the launch pad, SpaceX is gearing up to run the prototype through its paces in cryogenic propellant load tests, much like the company did with its predecessor, SN20.

Once Starship SN24 passes propellant load testing, it will be ready for orbital flight pending launch clearance.

SpaceX has been waiting on approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the first orbital flight of Starship, but the regulator has repeatedly delayed its environmental review of the proposed launch.

Last month, the FAA’s Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) of SpaceX’s planned Starship launch was delayed to May 31.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently gave YouTuber Everyday Astronaut a tour of the Starship launch tower at Starbase. Musk also discussed the latest Starship prototype, the improvements the company has made, and its plans for future Starships in an earlier video.