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FAA Clears the Way for SpaceX's Second Starship Launch on November 17

Starship stacked to the Super Heavy Booster

In a recent announcement, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has provided the green light for the upcoming launch of SpaceX's Starship, marking its second mission. The FAA declared that SpaceX has met all necessary safety, environmental, policy, and financial responsibility requirements for the launch.

Scheduled for liftoff on Friday, November 17, from SpaceX's Starbase in South Texas, the event will unfold within a two-hour window starting at 8 a.m. EST (1300 GMT; 7 a.m. local Texas time). The FAA's approval follows the successful completion of an investigation into a previous launch mishap on April 20.

Comprising the first-stage booster Super Heavy and the upper-stage Starship, SpaceX envisions both components to be fully reusable, a groundbreaking advancement in space transportation. The colossal Starship, standing at nearly 400 feet (122 meters) tall, is recognized as the largest and most powerful rocket ever constructed.

The initial flight of Starship took place on April 20 as a test mission from Starbase. Unfortunately, the mission encountered multiple issues, including the failure of stage separation, leading to the intentional destruction of the vehicle over the Gulf of Mexico. This incident also resulted in damage to parts of the Starbase facility.

To address potential issues and prevent a recurrence of damage, SpaceX has implemented a water-deluge system beneath the orbital launch mount. This system, consisting of a reinforced steel plate, aims to counteract the intense heat generated by Super Heavy's 33 Raptor engines.

The FAA's comprehensive investigation into the April 20 launch concluded in early September. Subsequently, on October 31, the agency completed a safety review, evaluating potential risks to public health and property for the second Starship flight. One outstanding regulatory requirement, an environmental review, was conducted in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to assess the impact of the water-deluge system on the biodiversity hotspot surrounding Starbase.

Following the USFWS's findings that raised no significant concerns, the FAA issued a license for the upcoming launch. The objectives of the impending test flight mirror those of the April mission, with Super Heavy planned to land in the Gulf of Mexico and the Starship upper stage aiming to reach near orbital velocity before splashing down near Hawaii.

It's worth noting that the granted license is specifically for this upcoming launch, according to FAA officials. The successful execution of this mission holds significance as SpaceX continues to advance its ambitions in space exploration and transportation.

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