SpaceX’s Starship could be ready for its orbital flight if it gets all the regulatory approval that it needs, Founder and CEO Elon Musk said on Friday. While the Starship rocket is pretty much still in development in a facility in Southeast Texas, major progress have been made on major elements like the launch tower construction and the installation of the vacuum-rated Raptor engines that will power the vehicle when it gets to space. With all these plans already in play, an orbital flight can be scheduled for next month and all that could be left would be regulatory approvals.
“If all goes well, Starship will be ready for its first orbital launch attempt next month, pending regulatory approval”, Elon Musk tweeted on Friday.
To take on the orbital flight, SpaceX will have to seek regulatory approvals from the U.S. Federal Aviation (FAA), as it has for all of its prior test flights. What the FAA requires for all testing is that the space company (in this case, SpaceX) demonstrates that all necessary safety precautions have been put into place to ensure that there is zero to minimal risk in the actual launch attempt.
SpaceX has had numerous phases of testing so it is very unlikely that there would be troubles with its testing and eventually launch phases. Although the company has had many of its Starship prototypes explode or experience disassembly, the testing phases has recorded more successes than failures, and have completed high-altitude flight test within the Earth’s atmosphere with a successful and controlled landing.
Flying a fully stacked version of its Starship and Super Heavy booster combo beyond the Earth’s atmosphere to outer space is SpaceX’s next major agenda. Elon Musk has pronounced that the company is ready for this new milestone but what could serve as an impediment may be regulatory approval which might take more than a month to come into shape.
During town hall meetings this past week, supporters and detractors raised a number of issues that the FAA will have to review and address along with SpaceX before proceeding to the next step. The FAA could, however, delay resolving some of these by issuing a temporary license for the purpose of a test and revisiting ongoing launch permissions.
Elon Musk is also on track to becoming the world’s first trillionaire with his space company SpaceX. Read all about it here.