SpaceX Founder, chief engineer and controversial richest earthling Elon Musk says his magnum opus rocket is ready to try leaving the planet for a second time.
“Starship is ready to launch, awaiting FAA license approval,” Musk wrote on X / formerly Twitter on Tuesday, sharing a video of the space vehicle and Super Heavy booster being stacked in preparation at the SpaceX Starbase development facility in south Texas.
The latest prototype of the vehicle that Musk aims to use for deploying more Starlink broadband satellites, sending NASA astronauts to the moon and eventually carrying humans to Mars is dubbed Ship 25. It now awaits bureaucratic approval to make its first uncrewed flight to space.
A number of early Starship prototypes made high-altitude test flights in the atmosphere without the assistance of Super Heavy in years past. Earlier this year we saw the full stack of Starship and the big booster blast off for the first time. The plan was to make a quick trip to orbit, proving the vehicle can make it to space, and then return Starship for a splashdown in the Pacific off the coast of Hawaii.
Instead, Starship failed to separate from Super Heavy after the April 20 launch and the rocket was intentionally destroyed. A potential outcome Musk had long warned of given the program’s developmental status.
Now after months of repairs and improvements to the launch site and the prototype rocket, which is designed to be the world’s largest, Musk says SpaceX is ready to attempt the mission again.
The Federal Aviation Administration, on the other hand, hasn’t said much. The FAA still needs to conclude its official investigation and report on the April 20 incident before it will decide if it is comfortable with the company blasting off again.
In fairness, it’s only been three weeks since SpaceX submitted its full report on the mishap to the FAA.
SpaceX has reportedly been floating a time as soon as this week for a potential launch date, but the FAA has not shown itself to be motivated to expedite things for Musk in recent years.
Starship development slowed down after SpaceX launched prototype SN8 in violation of its FAA launch license in late 2020. The company settled this matter with the government out of the public eye, but what followed was a pause in issuing the next launch license for the program and a lengthy public review process prior to the April 20 debut of the full stack with Super Heavy.
So now we find ourselves in a familiar situation: Elon and SpaceX are ready to fly, but the FAA isn’t quite ready to give a green light.
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