SpaceX is counting down the days before the first test launch of Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built, destined to transport astronauts to the Moon, Mars, and beyond, on Monday.
The massive rocket is set to launch from Starbase, SpaceX’s spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas, at 8:00 a.m. Central Time (1300 GMT).
If Monday’s launch attempt is postponed, fallback times are planned for later in the week, which billionaire SpaceX creator Elon Musk has stated is a strong possibility.
“It’s a very risky flight,” Musk said in a live event on Twitter Spaces on Sunday. “It’s the first launch of a very complicated, gigantic rocket.
“There’s a million ways this rocket could fail,” he added. “We’re going to be very careful and if we see anything that gives us concern, we’ll postpone.”
Musk stated that he wants to “set expectations low” because “probably tomorrow will not be successful — if by successful, one means reaching orbit.”
For the first time since the Apollo program ended in 1972, NASA has chosen the Starship spacecraft to take men to the Moon in late 2025 (a mission known as Artemis III).
A 164-foot (50-meter) tall spaceship designed to carry crew and cargo rides atop a 230-foot tall first-stage Super Heavy booster rocket.
The spacecraft and the Super Heavy rocket, collectively known as Starship, have never flown together, though there have been multiple sub-orbital test flights of the spacecraft alone.
If all goes as planned, the Super Heavy rocket will separate from the Starship around three minutes after launch and land in the Gulf of Mexico.
The starship, which has six engines of its own, will continue to an altitude of roughly 150 miles before crashing down in the Pacific Ocean around 90 minutes after launch.