The next Starship test launch could take place on November 17, pending regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies.
The potential launch from SpaceX’s Starbase test site on Boca Chica Beach near Brownsville, Texas, will mark the company’s second test flight of a Starship and Super Heavy orbiter — the largest and most powerful rocket ever built. SpaceX launched the first Starship test flight in April, but it exploded shortly after liftoff.
“The spacecraft is preparing for launch as early as November 17, pending final regulatory approval,” SpaceX said Written on Xformerly known as Twitter, was announced late Friday (November 10).
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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk added that whether or not Starship launches this month depends on the government’s approval of the test flight.
“Assuming regulatory approval,” Musk said Written on X In response to SpaceX’s announcement.
The Starship and Super Heavy launch system is the longest and most powerful rocket in the world. It stands approximately 400 feet (121 meters) tall, has a lifting capacity of 165 tons (150 metric tons), and is designed to be completely reusable. SpaceX aims to use Starship as a launch pad for heavy payloads, as well as for deep space missions, and has already sold trips around the moon to space tourists. NASA also plans to use the Starship rocket to land Artemis 3 astronauts on the moon.
But first, the spacecraft and its booster must prove they are ready for orbital flight. This is where the next test flight comes in.
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SpaceX launched the first full test flight of Starship on April 20, but the rocket suffered a separation stage failure, the loss of several of the first stage’s 33 Raptor engines and other problems. As a result, SpaceX intentionally blew up the rocket over the Gulf of Mexico just minutes after liftoff.
For the upcoming test flight, SpaceX has modified the stage separation process to use a new hot staging process where the upper stage will power its engines while still attached to the first Super Heavy stage. SpaceX engineers have developed a new venting system for this process as well, which the company demonstrated in a video New video Shared on X and Youtube.
The second flight will likely follow the same plan as the first test, with SpaceX blasting toward a target landing site off the coast of Hawaii to test re-entry and landing technologies, while the Super Heavy booster makes a landing in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The first flight test of the Starship vehicle provided many lessons learned that directly contributed to numerous improvements to both the vehicle and ground infrastructure to improve the likelihood of success on future flights,” SpaceX Written in the mission overview. “The second flight test will debut the hot phase separation system and new electronic thrust control (TVC) system for the Super Heavy Raptor engines, as well as enhancements to the pad foundation and water-cooled steel flame deflector, among many other improvements.”
SpaceX has built a new water deluge system to protect the orbiting launch pad and Starship rocket from the immense power of the first stage’s 33 Raptor engines. During the test flight on April 20, the booster shaft created a huge crater beneath the launch pad, spewing debris and chunks of concrete that fell back onto the Starbase facility and the surrounding area.
This deluge system is being reviewed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to understand the environmental impact it could have on animal and plant life living in the Boca Chica Wildlife Refuge surrounding SpaceX’s Starbase facility.
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“The FAA continues to work on the environmental review,” the agency wrote on October 31 in an email statement. “As part of its environmental review, the FAA is consulting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on an updated biological assessment under the Endangered Species Act. The FAA and USFWS must complete this consultation before the environmental review portion of the permit is completed.” Evaluation completed.
SpaceX launched a Website for testing the second spacecraft flightAs with every mission, it will share a live webcast on the page on November 17 — if the launch actually happens on that date — starting about 30 minutes before liftoff.
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