The next launch of the superheavy Starship orbital system may take place as early as September. This is indicated by several factors at once.
The first of these is a message from the US Coast Guard sent to sailors working offshore east of Brownsville (Texas). It contains a warning about the upcoming rocket launch from the territory of the SpaceX test complex in Boca Chica, as well as dangerous navigation zones. According to the document, the launch will take place no earlier than August 31. For comparison, the previous time the difference between the date of the possible launch of Starship announced by the Coast Guard and its actual flight was two weeks.
We have a NET launch date for the next @SpaceX starship launch, August 31, 2023.
— Patrick Colquhoun (@Patrick_Colqu) August 16, 2023
Another important circumstance is that SpaceX has finally submitted to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) an investigation report on the causes of the Starship accident that occurred during its first orbital test. Now the FAA will have to study the document, after which it will announce a list of measures that must be implemented in order for the company to receive permission for the next test.
At the same time, it is important to note that SpaceX has not been idle for all the past months. The company was actively working to restore the launch pad and equip it with a water cooling system, and also made a number of changes to the design of the Starship. This gives hope that SpaceX will not need too much time to comply with FAA requirements.
In addition to legal aspects, the next Starship flight may be delayed for technical reasons. Recall that the recent burning of the Super Heavy booster could not be completed due to the premature shutdown of several Raptor methane engines. The same situation occurred during the actual flight of Starship, which was the main reason for its accident.
Nevertheless, SpaceX’s current activity indicates that it is serious about conducting a new Starship test as soon as possible. Its success will determine not only the progress of the company’s plans to deploy the next generation of Starlink satellites, but also the future of the Artemis program. The fact is that SpaceX is responsible for creating the Starship HLS lander, which will take American astronauts to the South Pole of the Moon. In this regard, it is interesting to note that recently journalists managed to photograph the prototype of the crew cabin for the first time. This suggests that despite all the circumstances, SpaceX also does not forget about its obligations to NASA.
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