SpaceX is ready to make another attempt at launching its Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy booster from its Starbase facility in South Texas by the end of August, according to marine hazard warnings issued by the U.S. Coast Guard. The launch is targeted for no earlier than (NET) August 31, 2023, as indicated by mariner notices aimed at offshore operators along the coast. August 23 UPDATE: New U.S. Coast Guard marine hazard warning states SpaceX could launch the next Starship flight test on "approximately September 8". [All dates are subject to change.]
UPDATE: New U.S. Coast Guard marine hazard warning states SpaceX could launch the next Starship flight test on "approximately September 8".— Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo (@JaneidyEve) August 23, 2023
[date subject to change, pending FAA license.] https://t.co/nUWN81lThv pic.twitter.com/intT5yCJer
The maritime advisory, released on Wednesday, August 16, urges mariners operating in the Gulf of Mexico to be aware of impending rocket launching activities and associated hazardous zones that could impact navigation. "Hazardous Operations - On August 31, 2023, mariners operating offshore in waters east of Brownsville, Texas, are advised of rocket launching activities and associated hazardous areas which may impact navigation interests. Navigational hazards from rocket launching activity may include, free falling debris and/or descending vehicles or vehicle components, under various means of control. Mariners should avoid all waters within rocket flight trajectories originating from launch sites in the vicinity of Boca Chica Beach and Brownsville, Texas," the U.S. Coast Guard marine hazard warnings states.
While SpaceX is yet to officially confirm the new launch date, the company's recent pre-flight testing progress suggests an imminent attempt. Just last week, SpaceX successfully conducted a static fire test of the Super Heavy booster, marking another step toward an actual launch. Engineers also tested the newly installed steel water deluge system, designed to mitigate potential damage caused by the powerful engines. Read more: SpaceX's Starship Super Heavy Booster 9 Completes Raptors Ignition Test, Uses Newly Installed Water Deluge System
SpaceX founder Elon Musk took to social media to express his thoughts on the upcoming launch. "Preparing for next Starship flight! This time, I think we have ~50% probability of reaching orbital velocity, however even getting to stage separation would be a win," he shared on August 4.
However, regulatory factors could potentially cause a delay, pushing the launch into late Fall. This could be due to the FAA investigating the April mishap, when SpaceX launched the Starship and Super Heavy booster for the first time. Although the launch was successful in clearing the launch tower and progressing over the Gulf of Mexico, the vehicle exploded before achieving separation. In the aftermath of the mishap, SpaceX submitted its final mishap investigation report to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Once approved, this report will outline corrective actions that SpaceX must undertake. SpaceX will then need to modify its launch license to incorporate these actions before being granted authorization for another launch. The FAA is currently reviewing the report but has not specified when their assessment will be complete. The timeline for the next Starship launch is dependent on when the FAA grants SpaceX the necessary spaceflight license to proceed from Boca Chica Beach.
The importance of the Starship project extends beyond commercial launches, as it forms a crucial component of NASA's Artemis Moon program. SpaceX secured the first Starship Human Landing System (HLS) contract from NASA. The company is tasked with landing crew members on the Moon, with plans to achieve this milestone during the Artemis III mission in late 2025. This marks a significant step toward realizing NASA's ambitions of returning humans to the Moon's surface for the first time in over 50 years.
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Source: U.S. Coast Guard
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.