Elon Musk’s Starship prototype isn’t heading to Mars yet, but it’s finally leaving Texas.
The Musk-owned SpaceX plans to launch the massive rocket from Texas into space before it splashes down off the coast of Hawaii, according to a filing with the Federal Communications Commission.
SpaceX has launched the rocket from its base in South Texas multiple times over the past year, even successfully landing it on the most recent go, but it’s not yet sent the Starship prototype into space.
As outlined in the FCC filing, a booster will launch the massive rocket from SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas facility and separate almost three minutes into the flight. The booster will then return to Earth, splashing down about 20 miles off the shores of Texas.
The Starship rocket, which appears to be slightly smaller than the booster, will continue into orbit before sailing back through the atmosphere and performing a “powered, targeted landing” about 62 miles off the northwest coast of Kauai, Hawaii’s northernmost island.
The whole trip is expected to take about an hour and a half, the filings show.
The documents did not indicate when the flight might take place.
SpaceX’s Starship rocket is key to Musk’s plans to enable regular interplanetary travel. The company intends to use the 160-foot rocket to send people and cargo to Mars. And Musk has spoken previously about using the rocket to enable rapid orbit-based transportation between cities on Earth.
SpaceX said in the FCC filing that the company will collect data during the first orbital flight to build upon and improve the Starship prototype.
In a tweet, Musk said that the rocket will travel three-quarters of the way around the Earth. He added that the ship will reenter the atmosphere over the ocean in case it’s destroyed upon reentry.
It’s a huge step toward Musk’s eventual interplanetary goals.
In 2015, Musk discussed putting a city on Mars after a successful rocket landing by SpaceX. He published a paper in June 2017 on making humanity a multi-planetary species, laying out plans for having as many as 1 million people on Mars.