Editor's note: Elon Musk said Wednesday that SpaceX is targeting early 2022, possibly January or February, to launch its first orbital test flight of a Starship rocket. Read our full story.
Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of SpaceX, will give an update on his company's progress on its huge new Starship rocket and you can watch it live online.
Musk will discuss the SpaceX Starship program at 6 p.m. EST (2300 GMT) during a 30-minute presentation for the National Academies' Space Studies Board and Board of Physics and Astronomy. The two boards are meeting this week to discuss a wide range of space exploration missions, astrophysics and astronomy projects and more.
SpaceX's Starship rocket and its Super Heavy booster are designed to be a fully reusable launch system for deep-space missions to the moon, Mars or elsewhere in the solar system. Musk first unveiled plans for Starship in 2016 (it was initially called the Interplanetary Transport System, and later the Big Falcon Rocket) and has issued periodic updates on its design over the years leading up to a series of suborbital test flights earlier this year.
The current prototype, called Starship SN20, test-fired its six Raptor engines last week at the SpaceX's Starbase facility in South Texas in a step towards its first orbital flight. That orbital test flight can only launch once the Federal Aviation Administration completes an environmental review of the Starbase facility, which is located near the village of Boca Chica on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. That review should be complete by Dec. 31, FAA officials have said.
"Limiting factor for first launch is regulatory approval. Thereafter, fundamental issue is solving engine production," Musk wrote on Twitter late Tuesday (Nov. 17). "Prototypes are easy, production is hard."
World's tallest rocket: SpaceX stacks Starship atop massive booster for 1st time
Starship SN20 stands 165 feet tall (50 meters) and is powered by six Raptor engines. When stacked atop its Super Heavy booster, which has 29 engines of its own, the entire rocket stands 395 feet tall (120 m). That's taller than NASA's Saturn V moon rocket, which stood 363 feet (110 m).
NASA has picked SpaceX's Starship as the vehicle to land Artemis astronauts on the moon in the near future. SpaceX has also sold a trip around the moon on Starship to Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa for an undisclosed sum.
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.