FAA grants launch license to SpaceX, paving way for Starship orbital flight test

FAA grants launch license to SpaceX, paving way for Starship orbital flight test

FAA grants launch license to SpaceX, paving way for Starship orbital flight test

The US Federal Aviation Administration has issued a launch license to SpaceX for the Starship’s orbital flight test, which could now take place as early as Monday. A 150-minute test window will open at 7:00 a.m. local time (CST), SpaceX said on its website.

The long-awaited launch license arrived at the very end of the day on Friday.

“After a comprehensive licensing evaluation process, the FAA determined that SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy, payload, airspace integration and financial responsibility requirements. “, the administration said in a statement.

It was the latest regulatory hurdle SpaceX faced. Now, the company is allowed to perform the orbital flight test as soon as it is ready. This will be the first time the Super Heavy booster and the second stage (also called Starship) have flown together. Assuming liftoff is nominal, stage separation is expected to occur approximately three minutes into the mission, with the booster and second stage plunging into the Gulf and Pacific Ocean, respectively. SpaceX will not attempt to recover these components.

On its website, SpaceX makes no promises as to how the test will proceed, or even whether it will pass milestones like Max Q (the point of maximum pressure on the vehicle) or the ignition of the Starship. Instead, it’s likely the company is just looking to collect as much flight data as possible as it continues to iterate the 394-foot-tall Starship system.

“With a test like this, success is measured by what we can learn, which will inform and improve the likelihood of success in the future as SpaceX rapidly advances Starship development,” the company says on its statement. website.

Starship is the most powerful rocket ever built. Once operational, it will be capable of carrying 100 to 150 tonnes (100,000 to 150,000 kg) into orbit. For reference, SpaceX’s workhorse rocket Falcon 9 has a payload capacity of 22,800 kg. To put that much mass into orbit, Starship’s 33 Raptor engines will generate more than 16.5 million pounds of liftoff thrust.

As with other launches, the company plans to stream the launch live on its website.

The exact launch date will depend on the technical readiness of the rocket and the weather. So far, things are looking good for a Monday launch: Weather reports for Brownsville, Texas, the small town adjacent to SpaceX’s Starbase launch and test facility, show a high chance of a day sunny and clear. Perfect for rocket flight.


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