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Can SpaceX Launch Starship for Orbital Flight by July?

Starship for Orbital Flight
Starship for Orbital Flight

On June 25, Gwynne Shotwell announced that SpaceX is moving to launch Starship for its first orbital flight in July. Despite this, SpaceX has not gotten the regulatory approvals that the launch needs.

According to Space News, Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s President, told people attending the National Society’s International Space Development Conference (ISDC) that the launch will reach orbit with their Super Heavy booster and Starship upper stage from Boca Chica, Texas.

“We are headed for our first orbital attempt in the not-too-distant future. We’re shooting for July. I am hoping we make it, but we all know this is difficult. We are really on the cusp of flying that system, or at least attempting the first orbital flight of that system, in the very near term.”

The Super Heavy booster, according to SpaceX, connects to Starship and allows reusable transportation of crew and cargo to Earth’s orbit, the moon, Mars, and eventually to other planets. SpaceX claims that it will be the most powerful launch vehicle ever developed and that it can carry 100 metric tons.

The plan detailed in a filing with the Federal Aviation Administration Office, the Super Heavy booster will land near the coast of Boca Chica, Starship will enter Earth’s orbit, and then splash land off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. The entire launch will take about 90 minutes.

While the news is an exciting next step towards the goal of colonizing Mars, SpaceX does not have a launch license for Starship Super Heavy. The only license they have with the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation is from suborbital flights for Starship.

As of now, the FAA is conducting an environmental review of Boca Chica so SpaceX can gain its license. The conclusion of the review could cause a delay if found that SpaceX needs to take measures to lessen the launches environmental impact. There is no report on the review so far, which could mean that an orbital launch will not be done in the timeframe given by Shotwell.

Whenever the launch is, it will sure be a nail-biter. Given the success rate of the Starship prototypes before SN15, the launch might end in a ball of flames. Although, it could land in one piece. Everyone likes an underdog.

Written By

Kirsten Markley is an Elon Musk enthusiast. She is studying graphic design and plans on being a UI designer on Mars.