Starship orbital launch could still happen next week as dress rehearsal cancelled

SpaceX fans waiting to see the first Starship orbital test flight may have to wait a little longer as it appears a launch could now take place closer towards the end of the month.

SpaceX rolled out the fully stacked Starship to the Starbase launchpad last week, saying a dress rehearsal would take place this week, followed by a potential launch next week, all of this pending regulatory approval.

That timeline has shifted again, likely due to the launch license approval process, as CEO Elon Musk said on Monday that a Starship launch was now “trending towards near the end third week of April.” Musk said last week Starship was ready to launch this week.

Musk’s tweet on Monday came before news that the scheduled road cancellations around Boca Chica this week to allow for the dress rehearsal were cancelled on Tuesday. According to data from NextSpaceFlight, the next possible road closure dates are now into the week of April 17, 2023. SpaceX has since confirmed that no dress rehearsal will take place this week, suggesting again that the earliest date for a possible launch is next week.

As noted, the first orbital flight test from Boca Chica is pending regulatory approval, most notably a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is subject to the completion of a federal environmental compliance review.

The Starship system comprises a Starship rocket and a Super Heavy first stage booster with 33 rocket engines. The plan is to launch the Starship second stage into space, where it would complete an entire orbit around the Earth before re-entering the atmosphere and landing in the ocean near Hawaii. Additionally, the Super Heavy booster is intended to land back at the launch site in Texas.

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