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SpaceX Starship rocket attempts first orbital launch

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SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas — Elon Musk’s SpaceX is attempting to launch its towering Starship rocket to space for the first time Monday from a private facility in Texas along the Gulf Coast.

It’s the culmination of several years of regulatory work and technological tests. Company leadership has repeatedly stressed the experimental nature of the launch. SpaceX had hoped to conduct the first orbital Starship launch as early as summer 2021, but delays in development and FAA approval pushed back the timeline.

Starship is designed to carry cargo and people beyond Earth and is critical to NASA’s plan to return astronauts to the moon. SpaceX won a nearly $3 billion contract from the space agency in 2021 to use Starship as a crewed lunar lander.

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