KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – After SpaceX stacked the first segment of the Starship launch pad earlier this summer, it is now taller than the fixed service structure of pad 39A, just 1,000 feet away at Launch Complex 39.
Starship’s first orbital flight is currently expected at SpaceX’s facilities in Texas, but later Elon Musk said Kennedy Space Center will be home base for the reusable rocket system designed to make life multi-planetary.
Musk this month updated his Twitter followers, saying that a successful orbit flight could happen as soon as September or take as long as another year.
SpaceX still has regulatory hurdles to clear to get its launch license.
At nearly 400 feet, Starship is taller and will be much more powerful than even the Space Launch System, NASA’s most powerful rocket ever, and when finished, Starship’s tower could be close to the height of NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building.
SLS is inside the VAB right now with NASA planning its mega-rocket’s first launch on Aug. 29.
Later, Starship will be used as the lunar lander for NASA’s Artemis III mission returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since the Apollo program, and with competition in space from a new world power.
“The Chinese are breathing down our throats,” Space Florida’s Dale Ketcham said. “They want to get to the south pole of the moon faster and they’re making progress so seeing that launch complex on LC-39, that’s encouraging to all of us.”