There is only a 50 per cent chance that the first-ever orbital mission of SpaceX's huge Starship vehicle will be a success, according to company founder and CEO Elon Musk.
According to Musk, Starship's debut orbital test flight will likely launch from South Texas in the next month.
"I'm not saying it will get to orbit, but I am guaranteeing excitement," Musk said at a recent interview at the Morgan Stanley Conference. "So, won't be boring!"
"I think it's got, I don't know, hopefully about a 50 per cent chance of reaching orbit," Musk said.
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The Tesla CEO noted that SpaceX is building multiple Starship vehicles at the South Texas site. These will be launched in relatively quick succession over the coming months, and there's about an 80 per cent chance one of them will reach orbit this year.
"I think we've got, hopefully, about an 80 per cent chance of reaching orbit this year," Musk said.
"It'll probably take us a couple more years to achieve full and rapid reusability."
The giant, stainless-steel vehicle will be the most powerful rocket ever to fly, featuring about 2.5 times more thrust at liftoff than NASA's iconic Saturn V, Space.com reported Musk as saying at the conference.
SpaceX is developing Starship to get people and cargo to the Moon and Mars, and perform a variety of other spaceflight tasks.
Starship consists of a giant first-stage booster called Super Heavy and a 165-foot-tall (50 metres) upper-stage spacecraft known as Starship. Both elements are designed to be fully reusable, and both will be powered by SpaceX's next-generation Raptor engines --A33 for Super Heavy and six for Starship.
And Starship is designed to be fully and rapidly reusable, which Musk views as the key breakthrough needed to make Mars colonisation and other ambitious exploration feats feasible.