SpaceX is gearing up for the much-anticipated second flight of its Starship rocket. With regulatory approval in sight, the launch is tentatively scheduled for mid-November, according to the latest updates from the company.
Starship is a fully reusable transportation system designed for crew and cargo missions to destinations such as the Moon and Mars. SpaceX conducted its inaugural Starship test flight on April 20, which ended with a four-minute flight followed by an explosion over the Gulf of Mexico. The progress toward the second flight has been slow with regulatory hurdles to clear. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently announced the successful conclusion of the Starship-Super Heavy safety review.
However, the final hurdle to jump is the environmental review, which currently rests in the hands of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Their review began late last month. With one approval in place, and the second on the horizon, SpaceX says the second launch could come as soon as mid-November.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 3, 2023
The success of this upcoming flight holds crucial implications, not only for SpaceX but also for NASA’s Artemis Program. In 2024, SpaceX is expected to demonstrate its ability to transfer propellant from one Starship vehicle to another while in orbit. This milestone is essential for safely transporting spacecraft to the Moon, landing on its surface, and returning to lunar orbit.
NASA’s Human Landing System Program Manager, Lisa Watson-Morgan, emphasized the significance of this accomplishment. She explained that once SpaceX reaches this stage, the remaining steps will be relatively straightforward, and the spacecraft will be close to flying. This iterative approach is designed to make the overall testing campaign smoother and more efficient.