SpaceX’s Starship program is getting closer to attempting its next launch as the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has initiated a review of the upgrades completed following their first launch attempt that ended with Starship exploding over the Gulf of Mexico.
The inaugural Starship launch in April ended with an explosion leading to extensive damage to the launch pad. Since then, SpaceX has been held back by what a company executive called a lengthy launch licensing process. However, before it is allowed to attempt to send Starship to space again, the FWS will first carry out a review of the upgrades the company was directed to make as part of the mishap investigation.
The review, in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), started one week ago on October 19 and will focus on the water deluge system SpaceX added to its launch pad at the Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, reports Bloomberg. This system helps to reduce the heat during liftoff by spraying a large amount of water.
The FWS has a 135-day window to form an opinion on the environmental impact of the Starship launch. However, the agency does not have to take the whole amount of time.
The FAA has already carried out its own investigation of the April 20th explosion resulting from multiple engine failures. The liftoff caused a conflagration that affected 3.5 acres of state park land.
Meanwhile, SpaceX continues to prepare for the next flight and claims the Starship has been ready to lift off again for more than a month. CEO Elon Musk recently said the Starship has a decent chance of reaching orbit.