SpaceX's Starship Cleared For 4th Liftoff: FAA Greenlights June 6 Test Launch

Benzinga ·  Jun 5 01:52

Elon Musk's SpaceX has finally received regulatory approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the upcoming flight test of its Starship launch vehicle.

What Happened: The FAA issued the approval on June 4, allowing SpaceX to go ahead with its timeline of launching Starship for the fourth time on June 6. The launch window opens as early as 7 a.m. CT on Thursday.

Starship is touted as the world's most powerful launch vehicle, standing 121 meters tall and weighing approximately 5,000 tonnes. It consists of two stages: the Starship spacecraft and the Super Heavy rocket.

For the upcoming test, the company aims to achieve a soft splashdown of the Super Heavy booster in the Gulf of Mexico and a controlled re-entry and splashdown of the Starship in the Indian Ocean. SpaceX has implemented software and hardware upgrades to Starship since its last flight test to meet these objectives.

Why It Matters: During Starship's previous flight test on March 14, the spacecraft lost contact and broke apart while re-entering the atmosphere instead of splashing down in the Indian Ocean as planned. The booster also lost contact before achieving a soft splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico. The entire flight lasted about an hour.

SpaceX launched the Starship twice last year — first in April and then in November.

NASA is currently relying on the success of Starship to land humans back on the moon as part of its Artemis program. The last crewed lunar mission occurred in 1972 with Apollo 17. Since then, no crew has traveled beyond low-Earth orbit.

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