The SpaceX Starship: A Timeline

Image: SN8 via Forest Katsch on Unsplash

Located in Boca Chica, Texas, the Starship has been an item of curiosity among those who not only live nearby, but also those who watch it’s progress virtually from across the world. The development and flight tests of the SpaceX Starship has been a focus for many who have hopes of seeing a crewed mission to Mars within our lifetime. The journey from conception to the current successful flight tests has, surprisingly, been relatively short for such a large pursuit.

2007 — Elon states personal goal of exploration to Mars.

2012 — Engine development started.

2016 Starship development begins.

2017 — Design unveiling shows up to 40 cabins, common areas, galleys, storage, and a solar flare shelter for future Mars missions.

December 2018 — Starhsip Hopper construction begins.

April 5, 2019 — Starship Hopper (Starhopper) tethered 1m test success (3 second duration)

July 25, 2019 — Starhopper untethered 20m test success. (22 second duration)

August 27, 2019 — Starhopper untethered 150m test success. (58 second duration) *Retired Post-Flight

September 2019 — Elon states that a life support system “has yet to be developed” for Mars missions and early flights will be cargo only.

August 4, 2020 — SN5 150m test flight (hop) success. (45 second duration)

September 3, 2020 — SN6 150m test flight (hop) success. (45 second durations)

November 2020 — Elon states “major upgrades [planned] for SN15.”

December 9, 2020 — SN8 high-altitude flight test with skydive descent maneuver failure. (6:42 minute duration/12.5km) *Destroyed [Low pressure in fuel header tank caused engine issues]

February 2, 2021 — SN9 high-altitude flight test with skydive descent maneuver failure. (6:26 minute duration/10km) *Destroyed [One engine failed to ignite]

March 3, 2021 — SN10 high-altitude flight test with skydive descent maneuver success*. (6:24 minute duration/10km) *Update: Destroyed minutes after landing via an explosion related to a fire reaching fuel tanks.

May 10, 2021 — SN15 completed the 10km high-altitude test and landed successfully.

Image: Mars by Aynur Zakirov via Pixabay

In Progress — Several future SN editions are currently being built. Data is being collected following each high-altitude test.

2023 — Japanese entrepreneur, Yusaku Maezawa, and the crew of dearMoon will “become the first civilian passengers on a lunar Starship mission” according to SpaceX where crew will do a fly-by of the Moon during their week-long mission.

2024 — Current goal for Starship’s first uncrewed mission to Mars.

2026 — Current goal for Starship’s first crewed mission to Mars.

Do you think SpaceX will meet it’s goal of landing the first humans on Mars by 2026? For more information on the SpaceX Starship, visit their website here.

M. Lockwood is an epidemiologist with interests in aerospace toxicology and environmental health.

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