Countdown to SpaceX Starship launch has begun
SpaceX has a 150-minute launch window for the Starship SN24 spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket, set to launch on April 17, beginning at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT). SpaceX is preparing for the first-ever launch of the world's largest rocket, the towering Starship vehicle, but the exact launch time is dependent on several factors.
The first combined Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy booster are presently scheduled to launch from SpaceX's Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas on April 17 at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT). However, SpaceX may opt to wait until later in the window before lift-off. This is the first full flight test of a combined Starship and Super Heavy, standing 395 feet tall (120 meters). SpaceX intends to utilize this fully reusable launch system for missions to the moon and Mars.
SpaceX has tweeted this about the Starship's launch:
Starship's flight test window opens at 7:00 a.m. CT tomorrow; a live webcast will begin ~45 minutes before liftoff ? https://t.co/bG5tsCUanp pic.twitter.com/mBGaFNwhaU
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 16, 2023
NASA has picked Starship to be the moon lander astronauts will use on the Artemis 3 mission in 2025, the first crewed landing on the moon since 1972. Before this mission, SpaceX must perfect the design, which this first flight test aims to achieve. According to SpaceX's mission plan, the Starship and Super Heavy have a 150-minute window in which to lift-off from Starbase.
When is SpaceX's first Starship launch?
This puts the launch attempt between 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. EDT (7-9:30 a.m. CT/1200-1430 GMT). SpaceX initially targeted the start of that window, but announced late Sunday night that the flight was delayed by one hour, now scheduled for 9 a.m. EDT. The launch timing within that 2.5-hour window will depend on the readiness of Starship and Super Heavy, the weather conditions at the launch site, and whether the launch "keep-out" zone is clear of ships offshore as a safety precaution.
Where to watch SpaceX's first Starship launch?
If SpaceX changes the launch time before its webcast begins, the company will likely share a new T-0 time via Twitter and other channels, as it has done for Falcon 9 rocket launches. You can watch SpaceX's first Starship launch via the live webcast provided by SpaceX, starting approximately 45 minutes before lift-off. The webcast is currently expected to begin at 7:15 a.m. EDT (1115 GMT) for an 8 a.m. EDT liftoff, but that start time could change if SpaceX moves its target launch time deeper into the window.
The NasaSpaceflight YouTube channel has launched a live stream for the launch of Starship. You can access the live stream below.
SpaceX has set aside two launch viewing sites for mariners in the waters near Long Island and South Padre Island. SpaceX's own viewing zone will be on South Padre Island in the Cameron County amphitheater. If you're in the Boca Chica area and hoping to view the launch, plan to arrive early and bring water, sunscreen, and bug spray if you're outside.
From launch to splashdown, SpaceX's first Starship test flight will last about 90 minutes. Starship will not reach orbit on this mission, but it should reach an altitude of about 146 miles (234 kilometers), circle most of the Earth, and splash down in the Pacific Ocean about 140 miles (225 km) from the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. The Super Heavy booster will make its return trip to splash down in the Gulf of Mexico about 20 miles (32 km) from Boca Chica Beach.Advertisement
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