SpaceX’s Starship Clears Safety Hurdle, Await Environmental Review for Second Liftoff

UNITED STATES: SpaceX’s colossal Starship rocket has completed a crucial safety review, announced the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on October 31. This assessment gauges the potential risks a launch might pose to public health and property, marking a pivotal milestone on the path to the rocket’s second-ever liftoff.

The FAA’s safety review assessed the potential risks to public health and property associated with a Starship launch, providing a glimpse of the regulatory approval needed for liftoff. Despite this progress, there remains one more critical regulatory hurdle to clear before SpaceX can secure a license for its next Starship liftoff.

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Starship, standing at a towering 400 feet (122 meters) when fully stacked, is the largest and most powerful rocket ever built. It consists of two fully reusable components—the Super Heavy booster and the Starship upper stage. To date, the full-size vehicle has only completed one test flight on April 20, launched from SpaceX’s Starbase facility in South Texas.

Starship’s inaugural full-scale flight, which took place on April 20 from SpaceX’s Starbase facility in South Texas, encountered challenges shortly after liftoff, resulting in a planned detonation above the Gulf of Mexico.

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Following the incident, the FAA initiated a thorough mishap investigation, concluding on September 8. However, the agency emphasized that further work was necessary before SpaceX could obtain the license for the second liftoff.

The FAA’s recent update indicates that an environmental review remains pending, primarily focused on the potential effects of a water deluge system installed beneath Starbase’s orbital launch mount after the April test flight. This innovative system aims to safeguard the mount from the immense power of Super Heavy’s 33 Raptor engines, which caused substantial damage during the initial launch.

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Assuming a successful conclusion of the environmental review, SpaceX and its visionary CEO, Elon Musk, have expressed confidence in the readiness of the latest Starship vehicle, having passed all prelaunch tests. With the remaining regulatory requirements on the horizon, the aerospace community eagerly anticipates the next chapter in Starship’s journey towards the stars.

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