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After securing FAA approval to launch the SpaceX Mars rocket Starship, CEO Elon Musk said the spacecraft will be ‘ready to fly’ in July.
Elon Musk announced on Tuesday that SpaceX would have a Starship prototype rocket operable by July. This serves as part of a broader scope by the aeronautics company toward reaching orbit for the first time with the Starship spacecraft.
Musk’s SpaceX Starship schedule for July comes on the heels of a recent environmental approval granted to the company by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In addition to the approval, the FAA also laid out conditions on the flights, which SpaceX appears set to fulfill.
SpaceX Starship Planned Launch Underwent Series of Setbacks Before Arriving at July Date
Although SpaceX initially planned the Starship orbital flight test for last summer, the company was unable to. Several delays in the development progress coupled with regulatory approval postponements caused constraints. However, the FAA put 75 actionable environmentally-focused requests that SpaceX has to clear to move forward. A majority of the transportation agency’s prescribed adjustments to SpaceX have to do with the mitigation of environmental impacts. These mitigations include limits on noise levels, biohazard materials control, and protections for water resources.
In a press release, the FAA stated that SpaceX would receive a launch license for the site upon successfully addressing these issues. SpaceX needs this launch license to carry out further Starship flight tests and to initiate operational launches from its private facility.
The FAA’s ruling clearly demonstrated that SpaceX still had to meet certain listed obligations to obtain a license. However, the agency’s overall handling of the environmental assessment drew some ire from some environmental conservationist groups. For instance, Jim Chapman, a board member of the non-profit environmental advocacy group Save RGV expressed his dissatisfaction with the FAA. Speaking on the need to protect the Rio Grande Valley, which his group advocates for, Chapman stated:
“For [the FAA] to say there is no significant impact [on the immediate environment that SpaceX intends to carry out its flight tests] is ludicrous. The impacts are simply too large. We still feel that way. The F.A.A. should have recognized that.”
Chapman further expressed his desire to see Save RGV file a lawsuit to hold the FAA accountable. He also wants the FAA to conduct a more comprehensive environmental review.
SpaceX Starship Specifications
In addition to making changes to its Starbase facility, SpaceX is also developing its reusable Starship rocket. The spacecraft is a large vehicle at a towering height of 400 feet and will be tasked with ferrying cargo and people beyond Earth.
The Starship’s rocket and Super Heavy booster derive their power from SpaceX’s Raptor series of engines. Although the spacecraft manufacturer has executed several high-altitude flight tests with Starship prototypes, it is yet to reach space.
Some of SpaceX’s products include the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles.