Setting Expectations on the Eve of Starship’s Historic Launch

Aaron Smet
2 min readApr 17


The world is abuzz with anticipation as SpaceX’s Starship prepares for its historic first launch. With the potential to revolutionize space travel and lay the foundation for interplanetary colonization, the stakes are high for this mission. However, as with any groundbreaking endeavor, there are risks and uncertainties to be considered.

Based on Elon’s comments in a subscriber-only Twitter Spaces, it is clear that success for this mission cannot be defined solely by achieving orbit or a soft landing. Rather, the payload for this mission is information that will inform future Starship builds, and the fact that success is even a possible outcome is remarkable.

Elon re-emphasized that while a successful launch is not guaranteed, what ultimately matters is that we know Starship has the physical capability to successfully reach orbit. This launch represents the team’s first step towards making that outcome more probable in the future.

Elon reviewed with the team today, and no one had any suggestions or modifications that would significantly improve the situation. Therefore, Elon said we must move forward with the launch and hope that the outcome will be positive.

Elon’s biggest concern is that one of the engines might explode upon ignition. In the event that one engine does explode, he hopes that it will be contained so that it doesn’t cause a chain reaction and destroy the other 32 engines and the launchpad. If none of these events occur, and the ship successfully departs from the launchpad, he will deem it a significant triumph.

Elon encouraged spectators to review the history of the N1 rocket. Despite having the brightest Soviet engineers at the height of their powers, with maximum motivation (i.e. the threat of the gulag), they were unable to achieve orbit with the N1.

In the end, the success of the Starship launch will be determined not only by the outcome of this mission but by the lessons learned and improvements made for future launches. The possibilities are exciting, but it is important to set expectations accordingly and recognize the risks and challenges involved.