Fueling was underway, and the massive rocket was set to blast off from Starbase, SpaceX’s spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas, at 8:20 a.m. Central Time (1320 GMT), according to SpaceX.
If Monday’s launch attempt is delayed, fallback times are set for later in the week, which billionaire SpaceX creator Elon Musk has said is a possible possibility.
“It’s a really perilous trip,” Musk remarked at a live Twitter Spaces event on Sunday. “This is the first launch of a massive, sophisticated rocket.”
“There are a million different ways for this rocket to fail,” he noted. “We’ll be very cautious, and if we notice anything that causes us concern, we’ll postpone.”
Musk stated that he wants to “down expectations” since “probably tomorrow will not be successful — If success is defined as reaching orbit.”
For the first time since the Apollo program ended in 1972, NASA has chosen the Starship spacecraft to take men to the Moon in late 2025 – a mission known as Artemis III.
A 164-foot (50-meter) tall spaceship designed to carry crew and cargo rides atop a 230-foot tall first-stage Super Heavy booster rocket.
The spacecraft and the Super Heavy rocket, collectively known as Starship, have never flown together, though there have been multiple sub-orbital test flights of the spacecraft alone.
If all goes as planned, the Super Heavy rocket will separate from the Starship around three minutes after launch and land in the Gulf of Mexico.
The starship, which has six engines of its own, will continue to an altitude of roughly 150 miles before crashing down in the Pacific Ocean around 90 minutes after launch.
“If it goes into orbit, it’ll be a huge success,” Musk added.
“If we get far enough away from the launchpad before something goes wrong, I think that’s a success,” he remarked. “As long as you don’t blow up the launchpad.”
“This mission’s payload is information,” he explained. “Information that will help us enhance the design of future Starships.”
In February, SpaceX successfully tested the 33 Raptor engines on Starship’s first-stage booster.
During the static fire test, the Super Heavy booster was attached to the ground to prevent it from lifting off.
NASA will launch personnel into lunar orbit using its own heavy rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), which has been in development for more than a decade.
The Starship is larger and more powerful than the SLS.
It has a thrust of 17 million pounds, which is more than double that of the Saturn V rockets used to launch Apollo astronauts to the Moon.
SpaceX envisions someday launching a Starship into orbit and then refueling it, Musk stated that the goal is to make the Starship reusable and to reduce costs.
Musk stated that the goal is to make Starship reusable and reduce the cost per flight to a few million dollars.
“We should attain full and rapid reusability in the long run – long-run meaning, I don’t know, two or three years,” he remarked.
The ultimate goal is to create outposts on the Moon and Mars, putting mankind on the “road to becoming a multi-planet society,” according to Musk.
“We are at a point in history where it is feasible to become a multi-planet species,” he stated. “That is our intention. “I believe we have a chance.”