SpaceX is rapidly developing their Starship launch system, a full reusable two-stage rocket intended to bring humans to Mars. So far one prototype, SN8, has flown high in the Earth's atmosphere, to a height of 12.5 km.
When will a SpaceX Starship reach orbit?
This question resolves to the date a Starship reaches orbit. If the Starship is launched more than 200,000 miles away form Earth without ever orbiting Earth, that will also be considered to be reaching orbit. There need not be a human on board for this question to resolve
A Starship is defined as a SpaceX vehicle meeting the following criteria (based on the criteria used here):
- Not an existing member of the Falcon family (Falcon 9/Heavy) or a Falcon derivative
- Intended to be fully reusable, with every stage returned to Earth (smaller portions such as fairings may be expended)
- The vehicle must have a stated payload to LEO of at least 20,000 kg (of pure payload, e.g. the Space Shuttle Orbiter would not count as payload mass). This is very conservative, so Starship would qualify even if it were greatly scaled down from today.
- The vehicle should be representative of a vehicle intended to carry a payload to Mars at some point, according to public statements of SpaceX or its representatives.