FAA clears SpaceX to launch second Starship flight

The SpaceX Starship lifts off from the launchpad during a flight test from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, on April 20, 2023. 

Patrick T. Fallon | Afp | Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration has cleared Elon Musk’s SpaceX to launch the second spaceflight attempt of its towering Starship rocket, the agency said Wednesday.

SpaceX posted on the social media platform X shortly after the greenlight that it was “targeting Friday, November 17 for Starship’s second flight test.”

A two-hour launch window will begin at 8 a.m. ET. SpaceX plans to livestream the Starship launch, with a webcast beginning about 30 minutes before lift off.

Starship first launched in April, achieving flight for a few minutes before exploding mid-air, severely damaging the ground infrastructure and raising environmental concerns. The FAA in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched a safety review prior to issuing a new flight license for the second attempt.

FWS determined that the rocket launch and subsequent damage to the pad infrastructure had no long-term negative effects on the surrounding ecology, according to an agency report released Wednesday. Still, SpaceX will help mitigate damage to the area by reducing sound waves and vibrations, assisting in fire suppression, and providing launch pad protection, the agency said.

As a result, “the FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy and financial responsibility requirements,” the agency said in a statement Wednesday.

Starship is critical to NASA’s plans to return astronauts to the moon and to SpaceX’s own goals in the launch and satellite markets, representing significantly more launch capability than any rocket currently on the market.

Musk has in recent years shifted personnel and priorities to the rocket’s Starbase development facility in Texas to get the vehicle off the ground.

— CNBC’s Michael Sheetz contributed to this report.

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