SpaceX is ready to perform the second fully-integrated Starship flight test, which aims to liftoff from Starbase, reach orbit to circle halfway around the planet, and perform an ocean landing off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. A recent U.S. Coast Guard mariner notice hints at SpaceX’s plans for a potential Starship launch attempt on November 6, though this launch is contingent upon Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval. The Coast Guard notice issued for the South Texas area near Boca Chica Beach outlines scheduled "rocket launching operations," warning boaters to steer clear of the designated hazard area along the flight path.
"On November 6, 2023, between 5:25 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., rocket launching operations are scheduled to take place near Boca Chica Beach, Texas. Back-up launch dates and times include each day following November 1, 2023, between 5:25 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., until conditions permit the launch. Mariners operating offshore in waters east of Brownsville, Texas, are advised of the scheduled 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 and Brownsville, Texas," states the U.S. Coast Guard notice.
While the launch appears imminent, NASA's involvement, highlighted by the deployment of a WB-57 high-altitude research aircraft for "imagery support" during the specified period, adds weight to the possibility of an early November Starship launch attempt. However, it is important to note that this potential launch timeframe is subject to change and the company has not yet confirmed an official launch date.
SpaceX remains subject to stringent regulatory requirements encompassing safety, environmental concerns, and other prerequisites essential for FAA approval. FAA representatives recently expressed optimism about completing safety reviews by the end of October. Nonetheless, the company must navigate a biological assessment update under the Endangered Species Act, conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in consultation with the FAA. While the process could take up to 135 days, officials indicate an expectation to expedite the evaluation.
Despite these regulatory challenges, SpaceX continues its preparations, having recently conducted a significant fueling exercise involving the Starship and Super Heavy booster, simulating flight conditions in a test run. The company's recent social media post confirmed the readiness of the vehicle pending regulatory authorization for the second test flight of the fully integrated Starship (post linked below).
Starship and Super Heavy were loaded with more than 10 million pounds of propellant today in a flight-like rehearsal ahead of launch pic.twitter.com/VbBTdR5h9p— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 25, 2023
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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.