SpaceX Lays Out Plan for Starship Orbital Flight Test

Super Heavy/Starship system in flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX has laid out plans to launch its Starship vehicle on a 90-minute flight test from Boca Chica, Texas, to a soft ocean landing about 100 km (62 miles) off the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The flight would take place no earlier than June 20.

Details were revealed in documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The commission must approve the use of communications frequencies for the flight test.

Booster Stage launch and landing. (Credit: SpaceX)

“The Booster stage will separate approximately 170 seconds into flight. The Booster will then perform a partial return and land in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 20 miles from the shore. The Orbital Starship will continue on flying between the Florida Straits. It will achieve orbit until performing a powered, targeted landing approximately 100km (~62 miles) off the northwest coast of Kauai in a soft ocean landing,” a document said.

Starship orbital flight test trajectory. (Credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk’s company is currently assembling at Boca Chica its first Super Heavy booster, which will serve as the first stage for Starship.

Starship soft landing location about 100 km (62 miles) off the Hawaiian island of Kauia. (Credit: SpaceX)

“SpaceX intends to collect as much data as possible during flight to quantify entry dynamics and better understand what the vehicle experiences in a flight regime that is extremely difficult to accurately predict or replicate computationally. This data will anchor any changes in vehicle design or CONOPs after the first flight and build better models for us to use in our internal simulations,” the company said.

Starship Orbital Flight Test
Event Timeline

Event T+ Time
Main Engine Cutoff169s (2m 49s)
Stage Separation171s (2m 51s)
SES176s (2m 56s)
Booster Shutdown495s (8m 15s)
Second Engine Cutoff521s (8m 41s)
Starship Splashdown5,420s (90m 20s)
Source: SpaceX