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SpaceX’s Starship rocket receives clearance for launch

SpaceX’s Starship rocket receives clearance for launch


The FAA has licensed SpaceX for a Starship orbital flight test that could take place as soon as Monday.

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A photo of the Starship rocket.
Image: SpaceX

SpaceX’s Starship rocket has been cleared for launch by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), meaning it could take its first orbital flight test as soon as next week, as reported earlier by CNN.

With the help of SpaceX’s Super Heavy rocket, Starship is the spacecraft that’s designed to ferry crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, and Mars. SpaceX says it's targeting a Starship launch from the company’s Texas Starbase “as soon as” April 17th.

The “150-minute test window” opens at 8AM ET, according to SpaceX’s launch website, and there will be a live webcast of the test.

“After a comprehensive license evaluation process, the FAA determined SpaceX met all safety environment, policy, payload, airspace integration and financial responsibility requirements,” the FAA says in a statement. “The license is valid for five years.”

The FAA also listed several steps it’s taking to reduce the impact of the launch of commercial airline flights and other uses of nearby airspace:

The FAA will use key mission “triggers” such as the loading of rocket fuel and the final disposition of the booster rocket to pinpoint when to close and reopen airspace.·

For the first time, the FAA will implement time-based procedures for a launch from Boca Chica. This will identify and reroute only the aircraft directly affected by the closed airspace allowing more aircraft to stay on their most optimal and efficient routes. It has previously only been used for launches from the Florida space coast.

Both the Starship vehicle and the Super Heavy booster rocket will transmit telemetry data to the FAA via the Space Data Integrator tool. Data such as position, altitude, speed and any deviation from its expected flight path will provide the FAA situational awareness, and in combination with other information, help to reopen airspace quicker.

Earlier this week, Elon Musk confirmed that Starship was preparing for launch pending regulatory approval.