Elon Musk turns 50 on Monday, June 28. And while you may think that the billionaire entrepreneur could treat himself to pretty much anything he darn well likes, the one thing he’s asked for is actually out for reach. For now, at least.
Asked recently by one of his 57 million Twitter followers what he’d like for his 50th birthday, Musk replied simply: “Starship Super Heavy.”
Starship Super Heavy
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 25, 2021
We’re assuming the SpaceX CEO is referring to an orbital flight of Starship Super Heavy rather than a desire to have the enormous rocket parked on his driveway.
While the first orbital test flight of SpaceX’s next-generation reusable rocket system won’t be taking place on Monday, it could happen in the coming weeks, according to SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell. So, a belated gift for Musk, at least.
In comments reported by CNBC, Shotwell told attendees of the virtual National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference on Friday that SpaceX is “shooting for July” for the maiden orbital test flight of its powerful new rocket system, which comprises the Starship spacecraft atop the almighty Super Heavy booster.
Shotwell said SpaceX engineers are “really on the cusp of flying that system,” though cautioned, “I’m hoping we make it, but we all know that this is difficult.”
SpaceX successfully launched and landed Starship in a high-altitude test flight in May. The effort followed four previous flights that ended in failure when the rocket exploded upon landing (or shortly after touching down) at SpaceX’s test site in Boca Chica, Texas.
The Super Heavy rocket, on the other hand, is yet to fly, so its first outing is set to be with Starship — hopefully in July.
The long-term plan is to use Starship Super Heavy to transport cargo and up to 100 crew members to the moon, Mars, and possibly beyond. SpaceX’s Super Heavy booster will be powered by 31 Raptor engines, while Starship will use six Raptor engines for independent travel that will also enable upright landings on Earth or other planets.
Watch this space for updates on SpaceX’s upcoming orbital test flight of Starship Super Heavy.