The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday granted a license to billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX for its highly anticipated second launch of its Starship rocket, clearing the way for a test flight as soon as this week, after more than six months being grounded since its previous launch ended in a fiery explosion.
SpaceX’s Starship, an ambitious program intended to eventually take passengers to the moon and Mars, has met “all safety, environmental, policy and financial responsibility requirements,” the FAA determined.
The FAA’s approval gives SpaceX the go-ahead for a second launch at its Boca Chica launch site in Cameron County, Texas, south of Corpus Christi.
In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, SpaceX said it plans to conduct the launch between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. local time on Friday.
In April, a SpaceX rocket that had been scheduled to travel 150 miles into Earth’s atmosphere suddenly exploded several minutes after take-off, which SpaceX called a “rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation.” SpaceX initially planned its next test launch “in a few months,” Musk—who also owns X and Tesla—said in a post on his social media platform. SpaceX also said April’s test, despite its explosion, “will help us improve Starship’s reliability.” The FAA was later sued by a group of environmental and cultural heritage organizations, who alleged the agency erred in its approval of the test launch and that its approval violated federal environmental law. Plaintiffs argued the FAA failed to conduct a full environmental review and did not require SpaceX to mitigate potential environmental harm.
NASA partnered with SpaceX in April 2021 to develop a landing system to take astronauts to the moon for the space agency’s Artemis III mission, another program aimed at bringing astronauts back to the moon for the first time in more than 50 years.
At 400 feet tall, the Starship rocket is the tallest and most powerful rocket ever built.
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