SpaceX says they could fly Starship on Friday, but that depends on one thing

SpaceX said it was ready to carry out the second launch of its next-generation Starship rocket this Friday, although it added that this could only be done after receiving approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“Starship is preparing for launch on November 17, pending final regulatory approval,” SpaceX said in a recent post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

SpaceX launched its Super Heavy rocket and Starship spacecraft (collectively known as Starship) for the first time in April, but an anomaly caused the vehicles to malfunction just minutes after liftoff, forcing the mission team to detonate them in mid-air.

There was no one on board the rocket, and there were no reports of injuries on the ground. However, SpaceX faced heavy criticism after the power of its 33 Raptor rocket engines caused the launch pad at its Boca Chica, Texas, facility to collapse, sending debris over a wide area.

The company has designed a more robust launch pad and after a series of recent machine tests, the company said it was ready to launch as early as this week.

But the FAA still has to complete an environmental review to assess the launch’s impact on wildlife in the surrounding area. It’s unclear whether there’s a chance the FAA will give SpaceX permission in the next few days.

Last month the FAA said that as part of its environmental review, it consulted with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) regarding the latest biological assessment under the Endangered Species Act. “The FAA and USFWS must complete these consultations before the environmental review portion of the permit evaluation is completed,” the agency said.

Having 17 million pounds of thrust at launch, the Super Heavy is the most powerful rocket ever flown. SpaceX wants to use it for manned missions to the moon, Mars and perhaps beyond. NASA has contracted SpaceX to use a modified version of the Starship spacecraft to place two astronauts on the lunar surface in 2025 as part of the Artemis III mission that will be the first manned lunar landing in five decades.

SpaceX’s social media post came at the same time Reuters claims to have discovered more than 600 previously unreported workplace injuries at SpaceX since 2014. Reuters attributes this to the pace of work required by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in pursuit of his grand ambition to colonize Mars. SpaceX has not commented publicly on the investigation.

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