We could literally be days away from an orbital launch attempt.
According to a notice posted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), SpaceX could finally kick off the first orbital test launch of its gigantic Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy booster as soon as April 10, Reuters reports.
Fans and space enthusiasts alike have been waiting for this moment for years now, but before we get too excited about watching a Booster with 33 rocket engines blast a 164-foot spacecraft into orbit — potentially the most powerful rocket ever launched — the company still has some hurdles to overcome.
Jumping Through Hoops
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been hinting at the company's inaugural orbital launch of its Starship launch system for quite some time. Original plans filed with the Federal Communications Commission placed the mission back in mid 2021.
An environmental assessment of the Starship launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, delayed the launch considerably, clearing the program only in June 2022, but requiring SpaceX to make dozens of environmental adjustments.
Even now, SpaceX still has some hoops to jump through before it can test-launch its gigantic 394-foot rocket stack next week. For one, the company still needs a launch license.
"The FAA has not made a license determination for the SpaceX Starship Super Heavy operation, and the FAA's Command Center planning notice should not be interpreted as an indicator that a determination to issue a license has been made or is forthcoming," the FAA's statement reads.
Setting the Stage
According to Reuters' sources, such a license could still be issued in time for a launch early next week, but an environmental compliance review could drag the process out even further.
If everything goes according to plan, the company's Starship spacecraft will complete a full orbit of the Earth before splashing down off the coast of Hawaii. Its Super Heavy booster is designed to make a soft landing near its launch site.
Meanwhile in Texas, SpaceX is busy stacking its Starship prototype dubbed Ship 24 on top of its booster, setting the stage for one of the most exciting launches in recent memory.
And we'll be glued to our screens as it happens.
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