This is one of Vox's Future Perfect predictions for 2023; they give it a 70% probability.
Starship, the new reusable spacecraft being developed by SpaceX, has been in the works for roughly a decade now. While the company has signaled that the next step is an uncrewed test flight reaching Earth orbit, that project has recently seen some delays. On November 1, industry news sites were reporting that the craft’s first orbital launch would come in December, but by December it was clear the launch wouldn’t come until 2023 at the earliest.
But smart observers are still optimistic. “Based on a couple of conversations, I think SpaceX has a reasonable chance of making Starship’s orbital launch during the first quarter of 2023,” Ars Technica’s Eric Berger wrote on December 9. More to the point, delays, which are pretty common with SpaceX and spaceflight generally, sometimes are a sign of caution, which means the actual launch attempt has better odds.
Starship is a totally new system, but SpaceX has an enviable track record with its other rockets: a 99 percent success rate on nearly 200 launches. Most of the drama with Falcon launches these days has to do with whether SpaceX also successfully lands the reusable first-stage booster without damage. The odds of a failure are higher in an early-stage program like Starship — and crewed launches like the shuttle operate under even more stringent safety standards — but SpaceX’s track record gives me hope.
I put the odds that SpaceX will attempt a launch in 2023 at around 90 percent. If it attempts a launch, I put odds of success at some point in 2023 (if not necessarily in the first attempt) around 80 percent. That’s lower than its 99 percent success rate for the Falcon rockets, but fair given the newness and relative complexity of the system. 90 percent times 80 percent gets us around 70 percent odds that a launch succeeds in 2023.
Resolves according to Vox Future Perfect's judgment at the end of the year.
SpaceX's suborbital flight plan for the first flight wouldn't resolve this yes, right?