SpaceX Receives FAA Approval for Fourth Starship Test Flight on June 6, 2024

SpaceX has secured approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the fourth test flight of its Starship rocket.

According to the license issued by the FAA on Tuesday, the launch is scheduled for June 6, 2024, from SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, with a 120-minute launch window beginning at 8:00am ET (5:00am PT). As with previous launches, a livestream will be available on SpaceX’s website 30 minutes before liftoff.

The FAA’s approval confirms that SpaceX has met all safety and other licensing criteria necessary for this test flight. The agency has outlined specific conditions under which an investigation into potential failures would not be required. These include failures of the thermal shield, loss of control during midflight, and engine failure during a landing burn. This meticulous planning underscores SpaceX’s commitment to safety while pushing the boundaries of space exploration.

During the flight SpaceX aims to demonstrate the reusability of both the Starship spacecraft and the Super Heavy booster. The Super Heavy booster is expected to perform a landing burn and soft splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico, while the Starship will attempt a controlled entry and splashdown in the Indian Ocean.

The upcoming flight will also test the effectiveness of Starship’s thermal protection system, made up of hundreds of small black tiles designed to withstand the intense heat of reentry.

Each of Starship’s test flights has been a learning experience, contributing to the iterative design improvements that SpaceX is known for. The first two attempts in 2023 ended in explosions, which, while dramatic, provided invaluable data. The third test flight in March 2024 reached space but disintegrated upon reentry.

These experiences allowed SpaceX to refine its designs and operational procedures, incorporating numerous software and hardware upgrades for this fourth flight.

You can read the full launch license below.

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