During a videoconference with the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, SpaceX founder and chief engineer Elon Musk spoke about the Starship Super Heavy project being developed in South Texas.
According to Musk, the goal of the project is to create a reusable spacecraft capable of launching 100 tons of payload into orbit and beyond, with the ultimate goal of making humans a multi-planetary species and "preserving the light of consciousness." Musk estimates that a fleet of 1,000 Starships will be required to achieve this goal.
The first of these starships is being developed at the Starbase launch site, near Brownsville, Texas, along the US-Mexican border.
Over the past year, the project has progressed at a rapid pace. Five suborbital tests were completed within a year. In just one of these tests, in early May of this year, the Starship prototype was successfully delivered.
Musk set an ambitious goal - to send the first complete Starship and Super Heavy Booster into orbit in July, but the deadline was not met. By August, Musk was able to show the world a fully equipped Starship for the first time.
Musk told the virtual team on Wednesday that he expects Starship's first orbital flight to take place in early 2022. “We hope to make the first orbital flight in January,” Musk said.
Musk's plans for orbital launches are dependent on obtaining the necessary permits. The FAA is expected to complete its environmental review by December 31 of this year.
“The main goal of SpaceX was to advance space technology in such a way that humanity could become a multi-planetary species and, ultimately, a space civilization,” Musk said.