This Thursday, Elon Musk will finally update the world on what SpaceX has been doing down there in South Texas. Below is what we expect Elon Musk to talk about when he takes the stage.
On Thursday at 9 p.m. EST Elon Musk plans to update the world on SpaceX’s Starship development progress. The last time we got one of these press conferences was back in 2019 in front of the company’s Mark 1 prototype and a Falcon 1 first stage.
A lot has changed since then. The manufacturing facility has grown to include new buildings and a much larger area, and let’s not get started on how much the launch site has grown. This update will feature a fully stacked Starship vehicle using Booster 4 and Starship 20 as a backdrop for Elon.
Here is what we expect to be discussed at this year’s update.
Enviromental Review process
There is no way Elon won’t bring this up at the update, or at least no way it won’t get asked about by media. Starbase’s environmental review process was a hotly debated topic last year in the public comment period. The finishing of this review process by the FAA is one of the steps holding Starship back from launching to orbit.
While there are still several consultations left in the process, which will probably take a few months to finish, there isn’t much SpaceX can say about this just yet. It’s possible the company could announce it expects no issues. However, we won’t know that for sure until the FAA says so.
Raptor 2 development update
During the Thanksgiving holiday last year, news about SpaceX’s issues with its new Raptor engine got out. This engine was said to be crucial for the success of both Starship and Starlink. Since then, we have seen Raptor 2 engines being tested at McGregor rather successfully.
Since that internal email was reported, Elon has spoken less on social media about the troubles SpaceX is having on the engine development process and even said last year it’s “getting fixed,” leading us to believe the Raptor issues have been resolved. Hopefully, this will be a topic discussed during the update, as Starship without Raptor 2 would go nowhere.
The future of Booster 4 and Starship 20
The perfectly paired Super Heavy booster and Starship versions have been a topic of discussion for a while. These parts were built in the middle of last year for the original July target orbital launch date. But, of course, that date has come and gone… a few times, and newer boosters and Starships are being built.
We’ve seen SpaceX retire earlier rocket versions in favor of the newer ones in the past. So while it might hurt Elon to push aside the 420 rocket, we hope to see what SpaceX has in store for these two pieces of hardware. They may still be flight-worthy but in a different, more destructive way.
New optimistic timeline for getting Starship to orbit
It wouldn’t be an update from SpaceX if Elon didn’t give us a new timeline for when Starship will reach orbit. The “in the next two weeks” line has been infamous with Elon’s highly optimistic Starship deadlines in the past, but that probably won’t be the case this time.
I wouldn’t expect that line to come up, as it’s pretty clear that any two-week prediction won’t happen. While Starbase may look from the outside to be complete, I would expect Elon to say it still has a lot of work to do before being ready for an orbital flight, but he will probably try to pitch a date for either this spring or summer.
Like the previous update, we expect SpaceX to stream it on the company’s YouTube channel. Also, stick around Space Explored for updates on what is announced the night of the event.