SpaceX stacks huge Starship vehicle ahead of orbital test flight (video)

This is quite the pretty picture for space fans.

SpaceX stacked its giant Starship vehicle on Wednesday (April 5), lifting the Ship 24 upper-stage prototype onto the Booster 7 first stage at the company's Starbase facility in South Texas.

The lift and its aftermath were captured on video, which SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk shared via Twitter early Thursday morning (April 6). 

The footage, apparently captured by a drone, shows off gorgeous seaside scenery as well as the 394-foot-tall (120 meters) Starship, which will become the most powerful rocket ever to fly when it lifts off — and that should happen soon.

Related: SpaceX's 1st orbital Starship looks supercool in these fueling test photos

SpaceX stacked its latest Starship vehicle on the orbital launch mount at Starbase in South Texas on April 5, 2023, as shown by this image, a screenshot from a SpaceX video.

SpaceX stacked its latest Starship vehicle on the orbital launch mount at Starbase in South Texas on April 5, 2023, as shown by this image, a screenshot from a SpaceX video. (Image credit: SpaceX/Elon Musk via Twitter)

Indeed, Wednesday's stacking was prep work for the first-ever orbital flight test for Starship, as Musk noted in his tweet: "Starship preparing for launch," he wrote as a sort of caption for the 47-second video.

Various reports have indicated that SpaceX may be targeting a try as early as Monday (April 10). There's no firm target date, however; SpaceX has yet to announce one, and it's apparently still waiting on an orbital launch license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. So we'll just have to wait and see.

Both of Starship's stages are designed to be fully and rapidly reusable, a breakthrough that Musk thinks will make Mars colonization and a variety of other bold spaceflight feats economically feasible.

Though Starship has yet to go orbital, SpaceX has already booked a handful of deep-space missions with the stainless-steel vehicle. For example, NASA chose Starship to be the first crewed lander for its Artemis moon program, which aims to put boots down near the lunar south pole in 2025 and then go on to establish a base in the area.

In addition, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa bought a Starship flight around the moon, paying the way for himself and a group of eight artists. And Dennis Tito, who made history in 2001 as the first paying passenger to reach the International Space Station, plans to fly on another Starship circumlunar mission, along with his wife and other crewmembers who have yet to be named. The target dates for those private moon flights are still being worked out.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with 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.