This test flight was a small step in a grand project. Before Starship can complete its first grand mission or host astronauts, SpaceX has significant technological questions to hash out.
NASA tapped SpaceX's Starship to serve as a lunar lander, ferrying astronauts from a separate spacecraft down to the lunar surface for the Artemis III mission, which is currently scheduled for as early as 2025. Before that mission can take off, however, SpaceX has to prove that Starship can make it to the moon.
The sheer mass of the vehicle will force the company to refuel the spacecraft while it's still in Earth's orbit. More than a dozen launches — carrying nothing but propellant — may be required to give a single Starship lunar lander enough fuel to traverse the 238,900-mile (384,500-kilometer) void between the Earth and the moon.
Before SpaceX can even hash out that process, it'll also need to learn to put Starship into orbit in the first place. Today's test flight only sought to get to near orbital speeds and make a partial lap of the planet.