SpaceX Starship could make 9+ flights in 2024

SpaceX is committed to increasing the number of Starship launches. The company has asked regulators for at least nine launches this year. The first could take place already in March.

Commercial Space Transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration is working with SpaceX to try to ease the licensing process, its administrator Kelvin Coleman said this week. He said at least nine Starship test flights are planned this year alone.

“They’re looking at a pretty aggressive launch schedule this year,” he said, according to Ars Technica. “They’re looking at, I believe, at least nine launches this year. That’s a lot of launches. If you’re doing modifications and doing them one by one, that’s a lot of work. We’ve been talking to SpaceX constantly around the clock, coming together and trying to figure out how we do this. We’re invested with the company, and so we’ll work with them to get them back going as soon as they can.”

The FAA completed its final programmatic environmental assessment of Starship flights in June 2022. As a result of this review, SpaceX received permission to conduct up to five Starship launches from South Texas annually. However, the company is now seeking to increase the limit to ensure higher flight speeds.

Regulators began to take flight assessments more seriously after the first full-stack Starship launched in April 2023. The launch pad could not withstand the onslaught of the raptors and pieces of concrete scattered miles around. Before the second launch, which took place in November 2023, SpaceX upgraded the launch pad and installed special cooling systems there that prevent damage during launch.

Elon Musk said his company plans to conduct a third attempt to launch Starship in March. He expects the flight to have a fairly good chance of successfully reaching orbit. Coleman confirmed that from a regulatory perspective, this schedule sounds “about right.”

SpaceX is growing rapidly. While just a few years ago the US only conducted a few launches a year, the number has now exceeded 100, thanks to SpaceX alone. In addition, there are other companies that are developing in the industry. This means regulators must improve licensing processes to keep up with the speed at which the industry is evolving.

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