• For full details of graphics available/in preparation, see Menu -> Planners
 SpaceX Starship orbital test flight infographic
Graphic shows the SpaceX Starship system.


First flight of world’s biggest rocket

By Jordi Bou

April 20, 2023 - The first orbital flight test of SpaceX’s fully integrated Starship and Super Heavy booster represents a key milestone in the company’s –and NASA’s – ambition to send humans back to the moon.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX will make a second attempt at launching the world’s most powerful rocket system after the first attempt was scrapped due to a glitch moments before take-off.

The 62-minute launch window opens Thursday, April 20, at 09:28am local time (13:28GMT).

Assuming everything proceeds as planned, Starship will launch from Boca Chica, Texas, the 33 engines on the bottom of the methane-fuelled booster burning for two minutes and 49 seconds.

At that point, the two halves of the rocket will separate, and the top section, the ship, will push on with its own engines for a further six minutes and 23 seconds.

The ship is expected to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere after almost a full revolution of the Earth, coming down in the Pacific just north of Hawaii.

Starship, which is designed to be fully reusable, has been earmarked as the spacecraft that will one day take NASA astronauts back to the moon for the first time in more than 50 years – and then eventually all the way to Mars.

PUBLISHED: 19/04/2023; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: SpaceX