SpaceX to Conduct Second Starship Flight on Friday

SpaceX to Conduct Second Starship Flight on Friday – SpaceX has obtained FAA approval to proceed with a new Starship launch test, following the April test flight that ended in an explosion 24 miles above, scattering debris. After months of waiting, the Federal Aviation Administration has granted SpaceX the necessary license for the upcoming Starship vehicle test.

“The FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy and financial responsibility requirements,” the agency told a news outlet in a statement. SpaceX is now aiming for the second test flight to occur this Friday, with the launch window opening at 8 a.m. EST/5 a.m. PST. The company plans on broadcasting the launch online. The forthcoming test aims to assist SpaceX in enhancing Starship’s capabilities for diverse space missions, including the long-term goal of transporting humans to Mars. 

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Additionally, SpaceX intends to leverage Starship to expedite the development of Starlink, a satellite internet system capable of delivering high-speed broadband to virtually any location on Earth. In April, SpaceX conducted the inaugural test flight of Starship. While the vehicle successfully lifted off from the launch pad, it experienced an explosion approximately 24 miles into the flight, resulting in debris scattering over a wide area. 

Since that incident, SpaceX has been leveraging insights from the initial test to enhance and refine the Starship design. “The second flight test will debut a hot-stage separation system and a new electronic Thrust Vector Control (TVC) system for Super Heavy Raptor engines, in addition to reinforcements to the pad foundation and a water-cooled steel flame deflector, among many other enhancements,” the company says. 

The upcoming Friday test flight aims to launch the vehicle into the Earth’s atmosphere, targeting a Super Heavy booster splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico and a Starship vehicle water landing in the Pacific Ocean. Despite obtaining clearance for a single test flight, SpaceX may encounter further regulatory scrutiny based on the results of Friday’s scheduled launch. The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s environmental review was the last hurdle for SpaceX to secure FAA clearance. 

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Consequently, the company has been actively advocating for a more streamlined government application process for test flights. “These delays may seem small in the big scheme of things but delays in each and every test flight adds up. And eventually we will lose our lead and we will see China land on the moon before we do,” SpaceX VP William Gerstenmaier told a Congressional subcommittee in October.

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