SpaceX Targets July 1st, 2021, Super Heavy Starship Orbital Flight

NASASpaceflight reports that SpaceX is targeting a July 1st, 2021 orbital flight with Super Heavy BN3 and Starship SN20. NASASpaceflight believes SpaceX is not on pace for July 1st but sometime in 2021 seems certain. There seems to be a good chance for the third quarter (July to September).

SN12, SN13 and SN14 will be skipped. SN15 is the next prototype after SN11.

SOURCES- NASASpaceflight, Brendan Lewis, SpaceX
Written by Brian Wang,

22 thoughts on “SpaceX Targets July 1st, 2021, Super Heavy Starship Orbital Flight”

  1. If you've been to the Cape, in the old launch control center, the windows had massive shutters they'd close when Saturn Vs were fueled, because an exploding Saturn V had a yield of about half a kiloton. 

    Kind of a low briance, though, closer to a thermobaric weapon than a nuke. Because the fuel and oxidizer weren't mixed.

  2. I watched the first moon landing when I was 6 years old on a black and white TV. I hope to see Space X put people on Mars before I am done. You go Elon!

  3. I doubt if they are going to launch 150 tons on the first orbital test. So they likely won't need all 28 engines.

  4. Just a little note – almost every fuel that is stored as a liquid is nonflammable while in liquid form. It must be atomized with a valve (made into a mist or gas) to be flammable. Liquid Hydrogen (used since the 1960s as a common rocket fuel by NASA and the Air Force) is insanely flammable and dangerous once is becomes gaseous.

    Methane per se is not the problem. Leaks of any rocket fuel is a problem – especially when it leaks outside of the controlled combustion chamber and into hot exhaust or flame.

  5. Admittedly, I tend to think of "not catching fire while in operation" as an early developmental goal, usually achieved on the static test fixture, not the rocket itself. They've been working on this engine for quite a while, after all.

    This leads me to wonder if the fires are due to something involved in rocket/engine integration, or perhaps peculiar to the conditions they're being used in on the Starship. Turbopumps are high speed rotary machinery, they really do not 'like' being tilted back and forth in operation.

    Maybe the engines do not respond well to gimbaling?

  6. Of course they have to have some clue, it's their rocket.

    Sn11 static fire was aborted and there was fire again.

    We will see how SN11 performs and latter next gen SN15.

  7. On twitter Elon indicates they know what the problems are and fixes are being made for SN11. Header tank and other fixes

  8. In my opinion raptor is causing so much problems, perhaps some design flaw or something like that. On 15th March the engine caught fire again while testing?

    Question is, will they manage to implement quick and reliable redesign, fix of the problem. They need a good fix if they want to use it for crewed transport, missions.

    They have problems on almost every test. As I understand methane is all right in liquefied form, but in the case of the leak or when converting into gaseous form it becomes very flammable,…

    So perhaps some valve not designed/work as it should or similar issue i don't know and in case of the leak it creates not nominal situation.

    Hope they fix it.

  9. nice print. if you've got 20 – 22 feet of open wall, you could get a poster at 400 dpi. There must be hundreds of stars closer than 20ly in that arc

  10. Correct. A token launch with just the Starship and some fuel on both for trying to return.

    Which is perfectly fine for a test.

    And in that way, they can show Starship is ready for business, even if the reusability part isn't there yet.

  11. The Raptors seem leaky indeed and that's not good for safety nor long term reusability.

    But for the stated objective of doing an orbital launch, that may not be a deal breaker.

    After basic acceptance tests (it passes static fire, launches and returns), a Superheavy could indeed push a Starship to orbit. Even if the return of both Starship and Superheavy fails, that would still be a perceptible success.

    They started that way with F9: by doing launches, then trying to recover the 1st stages later.

  12. Also, the engines might interact when that many are firing in such close proximity.

    Not to mention that losing 30 of those engines in one crash is gonna sting.

  13. Yes, I expect almost all of the development work they've been doing on the Starship to seamlessly transfer over to the Superheavy; It isn't doing anything novel like acrobatics on the way down.

    The one thing that concerns me about the July 1st launch date, is the high failure rate SpaceX is seeing in the static test fires. They clearly have some bugs in the Raptor engine to work out. You've doubtless seen the turbopumps literally catch fire during otherwise normal operation, during Starship's test flights, even on engines that did successfully run.

    Given how many engines the Superheavy requires, unless they dramatically improve the QC on those engines, it's going to take a fair number of test fires and swaps to get all of them working at the same time, and more than one of them will be on fire during the flight.

  14. The Raptors need a big boost in reliability. Figuring how to fire 30 of them at the same time is going to take a while.

  15. AFAIK, they are still stacking BN1. However, since it uses the same Raptor engines as Starship, pretty much everything learned with Starship should translate to the booster. And they already are landing Falcon 9s. Realistically speaking though, they don't necessarily need to be able to successfully land a booster before an orbital test.

  16. Despite of having more thrusters, Superheavy booster will probably be an easier proposition than Starship.

    Because it doesn't have to do the same kind of flip maneuver, and SpaceX already got the hang of controlling a descending suborbital first stage.

    So probably yes, they could launch around this date, but no promises.

  17. Wait, July? In just four months? Have they been testing the boosters without me knowing? Static firing and al that? Because I haven't seen it.

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