SpaceX's Starship vehicle gleams in the sunrise over the company's Starbase facility in South Texas, where the vehicle waits ready to make its debut test flight.
Starship's first-ever orbital flight is targeted for April 17, but that date has yet to be confirmed. SpaceX engineers have completed a final "flight readiness review" for the launch system, which consists of a huge first-stage booster called Super Heavy and a 165-foot-tall (50 meters) upper-stage spacecraft known as Starship.
SpaceX shared stunning photos of Starship on Wednesday, April 12, showing the vehicle stacked and ready for launch with the Texas sun rising in the background. The new photos shared on Twitter capture Starship up close, including an aerial view of the rocket's nose cone. The company also shared a video, taken on April 5, of the rocket being lifted into place on the launchpad.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced the vehicle was "awaiting regulatory approval" but otherwise "ready to launch" on Sunday, April 9, via Twitter. SpaceX must secure a launch license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration before the company can secure a flight date.
The Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket (collectively known as Starship) are designed to be fully and rapidly reusable. When the 394-foot-tall (120 meters) vehicle finally lifts off, it will become the most powerful rocket ever to fly.
Pending all goes well during its test flight, SpaceX aims to use the Starship launch system for missions to the moon and Mars. In fact, NASA chose Starship to be the first crewed lander for its Artemis moon program, which aims to touch down near the lunar south pole in 2025. Additionally, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and American engineer and entrepreneur Dennis Tito have purchased two separate Starship trips around the moon.
Get the Space.com Newsletter
Breaking space news, the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more!
Samantha Mathewson joined Space.com as an intern in the summer of 2016. She received a B.A. in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of New Haven, in Connecticut. Previously, her work has been published in Nature World News. When not writing or reading about science, Samantha enjoys traveling to new places and taking photos! You can follow her on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13.