FAA Could Approve SpaceX Starship Launch License Next Month

SpaceX may soon have the green light for the next launch of its Starship rocket.

by Faruk Imamovic
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FAA Could Approve SpaceX Starship Launch License Next Month
© Getty Images News/Red Huber

SpaceX may soon have the green light for the next launch of its Starship rocket. Acting FAA Administrator, Polly Trottenberg, recently announced that the Federal Aviation Administration could potentially issue a launch license for the rocket as early as next month.

This development comes after a previous Starship exploded a mere four minutes into its flight in April.

A Glimmer of Optimism Despite April Setback

The April 20 test launch from Texas was intended to be a crucial demonstration of the SpaceX Starship Super Heavy rocket's capacity to reach space.

However, the launch took a disastrous turn: after a successful liftoff that pulverized its launchpad, the rocket ascended 25 miles (40.23 km) before meeting its explosive fate. "We're working well with them and have been in good discussions.

Teams are working together and I think we're optimistic sometime next month," said Trottenberg to reporters during a recent conference. However, even if SpaceX secures the FAA license, they still have another hurdle to cross.

A separate environmental approval is needed from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before any rocket can be launched. The duration of this approval remains uncertain.

Safety First: FAA Mandates 63 Corrective Actions

The FAA's deep dive into the April incident revealed "multiple root causes" behind the Starship's failure.

As a result, they've stipulated 63 corrective actions that SpaceX must implement before taking to the skies again. These actions encompass a range of safety measures, from hardware tweaks to stave off leaks and fires to reinforcement of the launchpad to counter the whirlwind of debris and sand during a launch.

"The closure of the mishap investigation does not signal an immediate resumption of Starship launches at Boca Chica," the agency commented last month, referencing SpaceX's vast Starship launch location in south Texas. For SpaceX to resume their ambitious mission with Starship, they must first acquire a modified FAA license.

This involves an in-depth analysis of the rocket's flight trajectory, potential accident risks, and other variables that might influence public safety in the vicinity.

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