Liftoff?

What’s happening with Starship? New SpaceX photos show a launch could happen soon

SpaceX via Flickr

SpaceX via Flickr

2023 could be the year that SpaceX finally sends its massive Starship vehicle on an orbital test flight.

SpaceX via Flickr

Last week, SpaceX tweeted that teams are starting tests leading up to Starship’s first orbital flight.

That includes a wet dress rehearsal and firing of the Super Heavy booster’s full suite of 33 engines.

The company also shared several new photos of Starship fully stacked on the launch pad, signaling that liftoff is on the horizon.

SpaceX via Flickr

SpaceX via Flickr

Here’s the Starship spacecraft atop a Super Heavy rocket booster on January 9 in Boca Chica, Texas.

SpaceX via Flickr

And here’s the same angle, at night.

Looking downward, the massive 394-foot tall Starship towers over the land.

SpaceX via Flickr

Though there isn’t an official date for the launch yet, Elon Musk tweeted that it’s “highly likely” the rocket will lift off in March, or possibly the end of February.

If the rocket does go to space this year, it would be a long time coming.

SpaceX plans to build a heavy-lift launch vehicle date all the way back to 2005, and more recent years have been full of stops and starts for Starship.

SpaceX via Flickr

SpaceX via Flickr

After its fifth high-altitude test flight in 2021, Starship still had some landing issues to work out.

SpaceX via Flickr

In July 2022, Starship was rolled back onto the launch pad.

But an engine test of a Super Heavy prototype resulted in an unexpected explosion.

SpaceX via Flickr

In the midst of engine upgrades and testing in fall 2022, Musk tweeted that a November orbital launch was “highly likely,” though it didn’t happen.

Musk also said in January that the company is planning to build a total of five Starship stacks in 2023.

SpaceX via Flickr

We’ll just have to wait and see if any of those make it off the ground this year.

The Washington Post/The Washington Post/Getty Images