FAA Clears SpaceX For Nov. 17 Launch Attempt

SpaceX Starship


Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX is targeting launch of its second Starship-SuperHeavy vehicle on Nov.  17 from Boca Chica Beach, Texas.

“The FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy and financial responsibility requirements,” the agency said in a Nov. 15 statement to announce it had authorized SpaceX to launch the second Starship integrated flight test (IFT-2.)

The government’s permission for SpaceX to resume flight testing its Mars-class, reusable, superheavy-lift transportation system comes seven months after Starship-SuperHeavy’s short-lived debut.

The April 20 flight, which lasted less than 4 min., inadvertently excavated a 25-ft.-deep crater beneath the launch mount and exposed design issues with the vehicle’s stage separation and automated flight termination systems.

SpaceX reinforced and upgraded the Starship-SuperHeavy launchpad at Boca Chica Beach, which now includes a water-cooled steel flame deflector. It also switched to a hot-stage separation system for better Starship performance and unveiled a new electronic thrust vector control system for operation of the 33 methane-burning Raptor engines that power Starship’s Super Heavy first stage.

The launch system window for Starship IFT-2 opens at 8 a.m. EST.

Irene Klotz

Irene Klotz is Senior Space Editor for Aviation Week, based in Cape Canaveral. Before joining Aviation Week in 2017, Irene spent 25 years as a wire service reporter covering human and robotic spaceflight, commercial space, astronomy, science and technology for Reuters and United Press International.