NASA expects the next Starship flight in a few months

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson does not believe that the Starship accident will have a serious impact on the progress of the Artemis program. In his opinion, SpaceX will be able to conduct the next test of the spacecraft in a few months.

The first orbital test of Starship. Source: SpaceX

On April 20, SpaceX conducted the long-awaited orbital test of the Starship spacecraft. It received mixed reviews. On the one hand, Starship successfully passed the section of the greatest aerodynamic drag, and demonstrated the ability to continue flying even after the loss of six Raptor engines. On the other hand, the spacecraft failed to reach orbit, and the power of its engines was so great that it destroyed the launch pad.

Despite these circumstances, according to Bill Nelson, the explosion of Starship will not have a serious impact on the course of the Artemis program (recall that the lunar version of the spacecraft will be used to land members of the Artemis III expedition). At a meeting with representatives of the US Congress, the head of NASA explained this by the approach of SpaceX. It strives to test new technology as soon as possible in order to get the necessary data and then make changes to its design. According to the head of NASA, now the company has several prototypes of Starship in production at once, so it does not lack equipment for tests. In addition, Bill Nelson gave a surprisingly optimistic estimate of the date of the next Starship flight. In his opinion, SpaceX will need two months to restore the launch pad and prepare the next copy of the spacecraft.

At the same time, even if SpaceX is really able to meet such a deadline, this does not mean that we will see the next Starship flight in the summer. To begin with, the company will need to obtain permission to conduct it from the US Civil Aviation Administration. It is currently conducting an investigation into the circumstances of the Starship accident, which may take many months.

Bill Nelson also commented on the possibility of reducing NASA’s budget if the plan currently under consideration was adopted to reduce federal budget expenditures. According to him, this will be a real failure. Nelson also noted that even if NASA funding remained at the level of last year, it would negatively affect the Artemis program, and lead to another postponement of future flights to the Moon.

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