Yesterday evening, Starship SN5 took a glorious flight up to 150 meters and down to its landing pad. It was a joy to watch, and other than a small engine fire that probably isn’t much to worry about, looked like a wonderfully successful test, complete with off-axis thrust, attitude control, and great sound.
It’s been almost a year since Starhopper’s flight to a similar altitude, which simultaneously feels recent and ancient. That’s a good reminder of the hectic-yet-steady, fast-yet-slower-than-hoped pace of Starship work.
On that note, back on February 28—mere days before life in the US got turned upside down—I had Tim Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut, join me for a Starship discussion on episode T+149 of the podcast. Right around the 43 minute mark, Tim posed four predictions for each of us to make.
I figured now is as good a time as any to check in on those (and I also kind of just wanted to put them in writing somewhere for easy reference). Below are the four scenarios Tim posed and a paraphrased answer from each of us.
1. Will there be a flight of one of these Serial Number 1, 2, 3, etc vehicles before the 20 kilometer attempt?
Anthony: 100% yes. Higher than Starhopper, but not that high.
Tim: Yes, very short hovers, maybe only to 20 meters.
2. When will the 20-ish kilometer flight happen?
Anthony: February 28, 2021 (a year + leap day from recording), and it will be with something like SN6 or SN7.
Tim: They will proceed immediately to the 20 kilometer hop after the short hop. End of May, 2020.
3. How many high-altitude, non-orbital flights will there be?
Anthony: They will do a 6-month-long, 1-flight-per-month-ish test campaign between the 20 kilometer flight and the first orbital attempt.
Tim: 3 non-explosive high-altitude hops before the first orbital attempt.
4. When will the first orbital attempt be?
Anthony: December, 2021
Tim: February, 2021