SpaceX Gets Closer To Attempting An Orbital Launch Of Starship

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SpaceX and its CEO Elon Musk have announced that they are planning to launch their Starship spacecraft into orbit, but they first need to overcome a number of technical and legal hurdles. At its Starbase test facility in Boca Chica, Texas, SpaceX tweeted on January 12 that the last phase of tests for its Starship spaceship and Super Heavy rocket were proceeding as planned. On January 9, the corporation placed a Starship spacecraft with the designation Ship 24 atop a Super Heavy booster with the designation Booster 7.

According to the firm, these checks involve a “full stack” wet dress rehearsal of the whole vehicle. After that, Booster 7’s 33 Raptor engines would be subjected to a static-fire test for the first time. A successful outcome of those trials would pave the way, technically speaking, for an attempt at an orbital launch. SpaceX did not speculate further than a few weeks into the future on when that launch may occur.

However, Musk has been more forthright, stating that it is probable that a launch attempt would be made in March. Although Musk and others have made several predictions about when SpaceX will launch the first Starship into space, the company has repeatedly missed these targets. With a completely assembled Starship as a background, Musk predicted in February 2022 that the ship would be ready for takeoff within a couple of months.

After a wet dress rehearsal of the whole spacecraft and a static fire test of the booster’s 33 engines, a NASA official predicted during a meeting with an advisory group in late October that Starship might be ready to launch as soon as early December. As NASA intends to utilize a Starship variant as a lunar lander for Artemis missions, the space agency is keeping a careful eye on the development of the vehicle. The total value of the two NASA grants SpaceX has received to fund the construction of these landers exceeds $4 billion.

There seems to be no obvious explanation for SpaceX’s failure to meet either Musk’s February prediction or the more current NASA prediction. In July, the business had a major testing setback when propellants below a Super Heavy rocket detonated.

Before SpaceX can launch a Starship into orbit, it must first pass a number of significant technical milestones and get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. After more than seventy-five procedures were taken to reduce environmental impacts, the FAA approved Starship’s orbital launches from Boca Chica in June.

As of now, neither SpaceX nor the FAA has updated the public on the development of such countermeasures or the standing of a Starship launch license. In a message to SpaceNews dated January 12, however, the FAA clarified that not all of the steps are required to be completed before obtaining a launch license.

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