SpaceX has been given the green light to send its Super Heavy rocket and Starship spacecraft into the sky in what will be only the second test launch of the world’s most powerful spaceflight system.
After completing a lengthy environmental review, permission to launch Starship was received from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday.
“The FAA has granted license authorization for the second launch of the SpaceX Starship Super Heavy vehicle,” the widely reported statement said. The FAA determined that SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy, and financial responsibility requirements.
SpaceX aims to launch Super Heavy and Starship — known collectively as Starship — Friday morning from SpaceX’s Starbase facility in southern Texas, and the entire event will be live streamed.
SpaceX conducted the first Starship test flight in April, but a malfunction that prevented the spacecraft from separating from the rocket forced mission controllers to destroy the rocket just minutes after launch.
Still, SpaceX considered the unmanned test mission a partial success for getting the 400-foot-tall vehicle in the air, if only for a few minutes.
But that wasn’t the only rocket SpaceX had to work on over the summer. Unable to withstand the immense power of the Super Heavy’s 33 Raptor engines as it rocketed skyward, the launchpad completely disintegrated, spreading concrete and other debris over a large area.
The damage prompted engineers, SpaceX chief Elon Musk, to create a “mega-steel pancake” that combines with a deluge system to protect the launchpad from the extreme heat and pressure from the rocket’s engines during the vehicle’s explosion.
After completing a large number of “corrective actions” at the request of the FAA, SpaceX has now received permission to attempt a second flight of Starship, and this time it will hopefully see the spacecraft in orbit.
NASA is among those keen to see a successful flight as it plans to use a modified version of the Starship spacecraft for the first crewed lunar landing in five decades in the Artemis III mission, which is currently Scheduled for 2025.