Will SpaceX's Starship Launch Make History or Go Up in Flames?


| LAST UPDATE 04/17/2023

By Stanley Wickens
SpaceX Starship Elon Musk
JIM WATSON / Contributor via Getty Images

Buckle up, space enthusiasts, because SpaceX is about to make history. The ambitious private spaceflight company is gearing up to launch its biggest, baddest rocket yet: the Starship. If all goes according to plan, it could be a giant leap forward in space travel as we know it.

But let's not count our chickens before they hatch. In a recent speech at the Morgan Stanley Conference, SpaceX founder Elon Musk admitted that Starship's maiden voyage carries only a 50% chance of success. In other words, it could go the way of so many rockets before it--up in flames. However, Musk isn't one to shy away from a challenge. "I'm not saying it will get to orbit," he teased, "but I am guaranteeing excitement!" The test launch is set to take place from SpaceX's Texas headquarters, and it's already causing buzz in the space community. Starship stands at a towering 40 stories, making it the tallest and most powerful reusable rocket ever flown. It's comprised of a spacecraft capsule and cargo hold stacked atop a 70-meter Super Heavy rocket booster.

Elon Musk space technology launch
CARINA JOHANSEN / Contributor via Getty Images
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The aim of this launch is simply to get the rocket into orbit. Unlike SpaceX's other rockets, the company doesn't plan on reusing it just yet. But the ultimate goal is to make Starship fully reusable, able to transport humans to other planets and back again. Musk is betting big on Starship's success, claiming that full rapid reusability "is the profound breakthrough that is needed to extend life beyond Earth...This vehicle could make life multiplanetary. That's a really big deal."

Of course, getting there won't be easy. Falcon 9, SpaceX's flagship rocket, took many failed attempts and even more explosions to become the reliable vehicle it is today. But if Starship proves successful, it could lower the cost of space travel by orders of magnitude. In fact, it could be just what we need to start exploring the cosmos on a grander scale. So, will Starship make history, or will it add to SpaceX's list of rocket failures? There's no telling just yet--but we'll be glued to our screens come launch time. As Musk himself said, "I am guaranteeing excitement."

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