SpaceX Will Be Ready for Next Starship Launch in 6 Weeks

SpaceX will be ready for the next Starship launch in just six weeks, according to the president and chief operating officer. Whether the company will be able to meet this schedule will depend on how quickly they can obtain an amended launch license.

Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, spoke at the Satellite 2024 conference on March 19. She said the company is still studying data from Starship’s third launch, which took place on March 14. However, SpaceX expects the vehicle to be ready to fly again soon.

“We’re still going through the data” from the flight, she said when asked about the analysis of data from the mission, according to Spacenews. “It was an incredibly successful flight. We hit exactly where we wanted to go.”

The re-flight schedule will depend on the completion of the investigation into the third flight. It must be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which will then have to amend Starship’s existing launch license before the next launch.

Kelvin Coleman, FAA associate administrator for commercial space transportation, speaking at the Space Capitol III event by Payload on March 18, said he does not expect this investigation to reveal any major problems that could significantly delay the next launch.

“It ended in what we call a mishap, but at the end of the day, we deem it a successful launch attempt,” he said, because it resulted in no injuries or property damage. “SpaceX was able to collect a great deal of data from that launch.”

Coleman said he expects SpaceX to provide an investigation report into the incident quickly. He noted that, after Starship’s second flight, the company completed this report within a few weeks. “We expect the same to be the case here. We didn’t see anything major. We don’t think there’s any critical systems for safety that were implicated.”

For now, the FAA updates the license for each Starship launch to reflect changes in the mission. However, Coleman said the agency wants to move to a process where the license would be valid for a portfolio of launches rather than individual launches. He added that SpaceX plans six to nine more Starship launches this year.

The main mission of future Starship launches will be to “get Starship into orbit, deploying satellites, and recover both stages,” Shotwell said at the Satellite 2024 conference, “with rapid turnaround on those stages as well.”

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