Two months ago, SpaceX’s Starship suffered an explosion during its first test flight in the skies over South Texas. It was not a resounding success, although some experts may argue otherwise. Now, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the rocket is soon to have its second chance this summer.
Musk tweeted that the next flight test of the Starship will take place in “six to eight weeks,” which sounds quite ambitious after SpaceX’s numerous setbacks. If SpaceX engineers fulfill their CEO’s promise, the next launch will occur sometime since late July until mid-August, although enthusiasts and skeptical observers have good reasons for doubt.
While Starship has earned praise for being the most powerful rocket ever built, taming that immense power has proven challenging. When it failed to undock during its first orbital flight in April, the Starship began veering off course dangerously, leading to its self-destruction.
The rocket itself was not the only casualty. Apparently, due to poor planning on SpaceX’s part, the mighty Starship boosters destroyed the rocket’s launch pad, which will not only require meticulous reconstruction but also additional systems to mitigate the tremendous thrust force.
Obstacles on the path to Starship’s flight
Even if engineers overcome all these technical challenges in less than eight weeks, SpaceX faces another significant hurdle: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has suspended launches pending the completion of its investigation into the incident. Understandably so, as the incredible engine power during liftoff damaged the launch pad and scattered debris for kilometers, with some fragments even causing fires in a neighboring state park.
To further complicate matters, environmental groups have filed lawsuits against the FAA over potential impacts of SpaceX launches on the local environment, and these legal proceedings could drag on for a long time.
NASA has expressed concern that further issues with Starship could force the agency to postpone its Artemis III Moon landing mission, planned for the end of 2025 and intended to be carried out using this rocket.
Previously, we reported on Elon Musk’s prediction of the likelihood of a catastrophic failure during the first Starship flight.