Permission granted: Starship launch will take place on November 17

SpaceX announced the receipt of the long-awaited permission to launch a superheavy Starship rocket. It will take place on November 17. 

Starship crash

The first orbital test of Starship took place on April 20. It ended in the accident due to the fire in the engine compartment, which caused the shutdown of a number of engines. Because of this, the giant rocket managed to reach a mark of only 39 km, after which it lost control, began to rotate uncontrollably and collapsed.

First orbital test of Starship. Source: SpaceX

In addition to the loss of Starship, SpaceX faced another problem: the launch pad received quite significant damage. A huge crater was literally formed in its concrete base. It took the company’s engineers several months to repair the damage. In addition, numerous changes were made to the design of the Starship. In particular, it received a new stage separation system.

SpaceX vs. FAA

By September, SpaceX specialists had assembled a new instance of Starship and conducted a series of tests on the launch pad, announcing their readiness to make a new flight in the near future. However, the company needed permission from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to do this. It was impossible to receive it until the publication of the official conclusion on the causes of the accident.

Preparing Starship for a new flight. Source: John Kraus

But even after this document was published and SpaceX fulfilled all FAA safety requirements, the organisers were still in no hurry to issue a permit. Regulators motivated this by the fact that they also needed the conclusion of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the new launch would not harm wildlife. Because of this, the FAA was criticised by SpaceX management, who actually stated that bureaucrats themselves had become a problem hindering the development of the private space industry from a means of solving problems.

Date of the new Starship flight

As a result, SpaceX and the FAA still managed to resolve the contradictions and the company received permission for the new Starship launch. It is scheduled for November 17. The superheavy rocket will be launched from the territory of the company-owned Starbase test spaceport, located in Texas.

The new Starship flight will take place according to the schedule of the first test. If everything goes well, after separation, the Super Heavy accelerator will perform a partial return manoeuvre and land in the Gulf of Mexico. As for the Starship, it will develop sufficient speed to enter low Earth orbit and make an incomplete orbit around the Earth. In the area of the Hawaiian Islands, the spacecraft will activate its engines and enter the atmosphere, after which it will be splashed into the ocean about 100 km from the northwest coast of the island of Kauai.

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