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The launch of the Starship rocket may be accompanied by a number of anticipated challenges, especially with the upcoming Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) environmental assessment of the Boca Chica site.
Elon Musk, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of SpaceX is confident that his Starship payload will complete its inaugural or first orbital flight this year. The announcement was made at the company’s “Starbase” facility in Boca Chica, Texas where Musk addressed the media and attendees during a presentation featuring a Question and Answers session.
The revelation about the Starship’s potential to fly into orbit this year came after years of consistent development of the ship, with a significant record of hurdles and regulatory scrutiny. SpaceX’s ambition to launch the Starship, billed to make voyagers to the Moon and Mars has been filled with at least four attempted explosions during test flights. However, the aerospace company achieved its first successful launch and touchdown about 9 months ago.
The explosions that have been recorded were often triggered by the melting of the thruster chambers of the Raptor 2 engines from the intense heat generated. While Elon Musk mentioned that the SpaceX team is “very close to solving” the engine problems that have already been solved, he claimed the next major hurdle is to maintain production of at least seven to eight of the engines a week by next month and produce a new Starship and a booster every month by year’s end.
The confidence in the plans to launch the Starship into orbit this year is bolstered by the companies broad efforts over the past few months. “I feel at this point highly confident that we will get to orbit (with the Starship) this year,” said Musk.
Elon Musk Starship Launch and the Likely Delays
The launch of the Starship rocket may be accompanied by a number of anticipated challenges, especially with the upcoming Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) environmental assessment of the Boca Chica site. Should the FAA find that the site poses a risk to the area and the adjacent wildlife, the license to continue operations at the site will significantly delay SpaceX’s proposed operations, as further assessments and extensive study is bound to take a very long while.
Despite this obvious setback, Elon Musk is confident that the program for the Starship will not be impacted so much. When asked during the questions and answers session what he knew about the FAA assessment, the SpaceX boss said,
“We don’t have a ton of insight into where things stand with the FAA,” adding: “We have gotten sort of a rough indication there may be an approval in March. But that’s all we know.”
However, should there be a hiccup with the Boca Chica site, Elon Musk pointed out that the Starship program will be shifted to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. While the process of transitioning may take some time, this new venue will be highly welcoming as the company has already secured the licenses it requires to operate in the region.