SpaceX could launch Starship again 'in about 3 weeks,' Elon Musk says

A giant rocket lifts off at sunrise with its fins and booster in silhouette
SpaceX's Starship vehicle launches on its second-ever test flight, on Nov. 18, 2023. (Image credit: SpaceX)

The third test flight of SpaceX's giant Starship rocket could be just around the corner, according to Elon Musk.

"Starship were meant to fly and our next one launches in about 3 weeks, but I recommend waiting for a few more test flights before hopping on board," Musk said Monday (Feb. 12) in a post on X .

The billionaire entrepreneur was replying to a post from the rapper Ye (formerly known as Kanye West), who had asked Musk, "Where my rocket ship?" The two moguls have known each other for more than a decade and have interacted frequently on X/Twitter over the years.

Related: See stunning photos and video of Starship's 2nd launch

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SpaceX is developing Starship to take people and cargo to the moon, Mars and beyond. 

The stainless-steel vehicle consists of two elements — a first stage called Super Heavy and a 165-foot-tall (50 meters) upper-stage spacecraft known as Starship. Both are powered by SpaceX's next-gen Raptor engine, and both are designed to be fully and rapidly reusable.

Starship has conducted two test flights to date, which occurred in April and November of last year from SpaceX's Starbase site in South Texas. The debut ended with a controlled detonation just four minutes into flight after Starship suffered several major problems, including the failure of its two stages to separate.

The second flight went more smoothly; Super Heavy's 33 Raptors aced their initial burn, and the booster separated from Starship on time. But both stages ended up exploding high in the Texas sky.

SpaceX has been gearing up for flight number three for a while now. Over the weekend, for example, the company rolled both Starship stages out to Starbase's orbital launch mount and stacked them. But the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is still investigating what happened on the November launch, so it's unclear when SpaceX will get a license for the upcoming launch.

SpaceX rolls the Starship Super Heavy prototype called Booster 10 to the launch pad in South Texas for testing in February 2024. SpaceX posted this photo to X on Feb. 10, 2024. (Image credit: SpaceX via X)

Starship is the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built. It stands about 400 feet (122 meters) tall when fully stacked — but future versions will be even larger, according to Musk.

Starship "will be at least 10 to 15 meters [33 to 49 feet] longer by version 3," Musk wrote in another Monday X post.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.