FAA approves SpaceX's second attempt to launch Starship this Friday

By Clyde Hughes & Amy Connolly
SpaceX will try to launch the second test of its Starship rocket from Texas this Friday. File Photo by SpaceX
1 of 5 | SpaceX will try to launch the second test of its Starship rocket from Texas this Friday. File Photo by SpaceX | License Photo

Nov. 15 (UPI) -- The Federal Aviation Authority gave Elon Musk's SpaceX the green light to launch a second test flight of its hulking Starship on Friday from its facility in Texas.

The two-hour launch window opens at 7 a.m. local time (8 a.m. EST) and will be live streamed beginning 30 minutes before liftoff. The company needed FAA approval after Starship exploded over the Gulf of Mexico in April shortly after takeoff.


"The FAA has given license authorization for the second launch of the SpaceX Starship Super Heavy vehicle," agency officials wrote in a statement on Wednesday. "The FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy and financial responsibility requirements."

The rocket comes with new engines, called Raptors. In a static fire test in September, all 33 Raptor engines lit up, giving hope for a successful second test flight.

"Starship's first flight test provided numerous lessons learned that directly contributed to several upgrades to both the vehicle and ground infrastructure to improve the probability of success on future flights," SpaceX said in a statement.

The FAA said in September that SpaceX must make 63 "corrective actions" to receive approval and prevent another explosion. The FAA, among other things, cited hardware redesigns, increased reviews of the design process and improvements to its launching pad.


The commercial space company said the new test will introduce a hot-stage separation system and a new electronic Thrust Vector Control system for Super Heavy Raptor engines. SpaceX said it has also reinforced the pad foundation and added a "water-cooled steel flame deflector."

The ground infrastructure from SpaceX's Boca Chica, Texas, launch pad became an unexpected story after Starship's April liftoff. The rocket's powerful engines dispersed debris, including concrete chunks, over 385 acres belonging to SpaceX and the Boca Chica state park.

"This rapid iterative development approach has been the basis for all of SpaceX's major innovative advancements, including Falcon, Dragon, and Starlink. Recursive improvement is essential as we work to build a fully reusable transportation system capable of carrying both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, help humanity return to the Moon, and ultimately travel to Mars and beyond," SpaceX said.

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