June 23, 2024

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SpaceX has received an FAA license to launch the Starship

The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday granted launch authorization for the massive Starship, paving the way for a maiden flight that could come as soon as Monday.

The flight is a test run for the reusable rocket and spacecraft chosen by NASA to carry astronauts to the lunar surface. It will be the most powerful missile in the world, if the test is successful.

“After a comprehensive licensing evaluation process, the FAA has determined that SpaceX has met all aspects of safety, environmental, policy, payload, airspace integrity, and fiscal responsibility,” the FAA said in a statement. It said it had “carefully analyzed the public safety risks during each phase of the mission and asked SpaceX to mitigate these risks.”

The FAA had previously given the company preliminary approval but required SpaceX to take 75 steps to protect the environment.

In 2021, NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to develop the vehicle. The space agency plans to use it to land astronauts on the moon for the first time since 1972.

With the license granted, the roughly 400-foot rocket is expected to lift off within days from SpaceX’s facility in south Texas near the Gulf of Mexico. The spacecraft will fly over the Straits of Florida between Florida and Cuba and circle most of the world before landing off the coast of Hawaii. The missile is expected to land in the Gulf of Mexico.

Neither of them is expected to return to Earth for a soft landing.

Elon Musk, CEO and founder of SpaceX, said he expects about a 50 percent chance of success.

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“With testing like this, success is measured by how much we can learn, which will inform and improve the likelihood of future success as SpaceX rapidly advances Starship development,” SpaceX said.