SpaceX Starship Gets Official Green Light To Go To Space Within Days


Elon Musk told us he’d be sending spacecraft to Mars by now and while that timeline may have been a little optimistic back in 2016, the SpaceX founder is now set to take a big step towards realizing his vision.

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a launch license for the company to launch the full stack of its Starship vehicle and Super Heavy booster to space for the first time.

“After a comprehensive license evaluation process, the FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy, payload, airspace integration and financial responsibility requirements,” the agency said in a statement emailed to reporters.

The announcement came at 5:50 p.m. EDT on Friday. Within minutes, SpaceX announced on Twitter that Monday could be the day many have waited for for years.

“Targeting as soon as Monday, April 17 for the first flight test of a fully integrated Starship and Super Heavy rocket from Starbase in Texas.”

Previous Starship prototypes have made short high-altitude hops, but have never come close to leaving the atmosphere. What’s more, those flights relied on three Raptor engines, whereas Super Heavy sports literally ten times as much power with 33 Raptors making up one of the most powerful rockets ever ignited.

There had been talk of a “wet dress rehearsal” before the launch attempt this week or next, but it now appears that SpaceX may just try to go for it as soon as Monday.

The launch will see Super Heavy and Starship blast off and separate a few minutes later. The big booster may attempt to return to the launch pad for a possible recovery while Starship continues on to orbit. Its stay in space will be brief, though, and followed by a splashdown off the coast of Hawaii.

Musk and other SpaceX execs have previously warned that the test flight may not go as planned with Musk “guaranteeing excitement,” whether it comes in the form of a successful orbital flight or a fireball.

MORE FROM FORBESElon Musk ‘Guaranteeing Excitement’ For Starship Launch In Coming Weeks

Here’s the full statement from the FAA:

On April 14, the FAA issued SpaceX a Vehicle Operator License to launch the Starship / Super Heavy vehicle from Boca Chica, Texas. After a comprehensive license evaluation process, the FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy, payload, airspace integration and financial responsibility requirements. The license is valid for five years.

The FAA is responsible for protecting the public during commercial space transportation launch and reentry operations. We carefully analyzed the public safety risks during every stage of the mission and required SpaceX to mitigate those risks.

In addition, the FAA will implement various airspace integration measures designed to reduce the impact of the launch on commercial airline flights and other airspace users.

· The FAA will use key mission “triggers” such as the loading of rocket fuel and the final disposition of the booster rocket to pinpoint when to close and reopen airspace.

· For the first time, the FAA will implement time-based procedures for a launch from Boca Chica. This will identify and reroute only the aircraft directly affected by the closed airspace allowing more aircraft to stay on their most optimal and efficient routes. It has previously only been used for launches from the Florida space coast.

· Both the Starship vehicle and the Super Heavy booster rocket will transmit telemetry data to the FAA via the Space Data Integrator tool. Data such as position, altitude, speed and any deviation from its expected flight path will provide the FAA situational awareness, and in combination with other information, help to reopen airspace quicker.



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