It wasn’t clear what those upgrades may be, especially after the company declared the engine test a success. But Musk later clarified on Twitter: “Our focus is on reliability upgrades for flight on Booster 7 and completing Booster 9, which has many design changes, especially for full engine RUD isolation.” By “RUD isolation,” Musk is referring to “rapid unscheduled disassembly,” an industry in-joke referring to the unintended destruction of a device or vehicle.

Hopefully, Elon isn’t planning to destroy anything anytime soon. Indeed, SpaceX had previously taken a more aggressive developmental approach to Starship, firing up one prototype after the other in a series of high-altitude tests that often ended in spectacular explosions. On the other hand, the company has seemingly made progress in developing its massive rocket, even at the price of a few fallen prototypes. In May, SpaceX unveiled its latest Starship prototype, showing promise that the company may soon be ready to test its orbital flight capabilities.


But Musk has been overly optimistic about Starship timelines in the past. In June, Musk declared that Starship would be ready for its first orbital flight in July shortly after getting the go-ahead from the Federal Aviation Administration for the site expansion in Boca Chica. A potential launch in October or November means SpaceX has fulfilled an outstanding list of regulatory requirements, which has yet to be confirmed.

It’s not clear whether the latest timeline proposed by Musk is yet another overly-optimistic declaration, or if Starship may actually be ready to take off before the end of 2022. Either way, time is ticking for the massive rocket to fly.


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