SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said Thursday that he thinks the company’s Starship vehicle has a decent shot at making orbit on its second test flight.
Starship took off in April for the first time, but it blew up after the spaceship failed to separate from its booster a few minutes into the flight — an outcome Musk had anticipated.
This is the first time that the company will use hot stage ,, which means the engine of the spaceship can be ignited while the booster and the spaceship are still attached.
Speaking at an event on Thursday, Musk said he believes hot staging is “the riskiest part of the flight,” and that if Starship “doesn’t blow itself up” at that point, “then I think we’ve got a decent chance” to reach orbit.
He also told the journalist Ashlee Vance in June that Starship’s chance of reaching orbit the second time is “much higher than the last one.”
“Maybe it’s, like, 60%,” he said, adding that “it depends on how well we do at stage separation.”
Abhi Tripathi, former mission director for SpaceX’s Dragon spaceship, told Insider that Musk is “usually not as optimistic” as he seems now.
Tripathi added that he would consider this second test flight to be a success if two things happen.
“One, the damage to the launch mound and ground infrastructure is minimal, and two, at least 32 of the 33 engines stay lit.”
“If I see those two things,” he said, “I don’t care what happens afterward. I will consider this a smashing success.”
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