Elon Musk led US space firm SpaceX is targeting as soon as Monday (17 April) for the first flight test of the fully Starship and Super Heavy rocket from Starbase in Texas, the company said on Saturday (15 April).
The announcement came after SpaceX cleared the final regulatory hurdle standing before the inaugural launch of its Starship rocket - the most powerful rocket ever constructed.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which licences commercial rocket launches, announced Friday (14 April) that it granted the company’s request for an uncrewed flight test of the rocket out of the SpaceX facilities in South Texas.
According to SpaceX, Starship is a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, help humanity return to the Moon, and travel to Mars and beyond.
To date, the SpaceX team has completed multiple sub-orbital flight tests of Starship’s upper stage from Starbase, successfully demonstrating an unprecedented approach to controlled flight.
These flight tests helped validate the vehicle’s design, proving Starship can fly through the subsonic phase of entry before re-lighting its engines and flipping itself to a vertical configuration for landing, according to the company.
In addition to the testing of Starship’s upper stage, the SpaceX has conducted numerous tests of the Super Heavy rocket, which include the increasingly complex static fires that led to a full-duration 31 Raptor engine test – the largest number of simultaneous rocket engine ignitions in history.
The company has also constructed the world’s tallest rocket "launch and catch" tower.
At 146 meters, or nearly 500 feet tall, the launch and catch tower is designed to support vehicle integration, launch, and catch of the Super Heavy rocket booster, the company said.
"For the first flight test, the team will not attempt a vertical landing of Starship or a catch of the Super Heavy booster," SpaceX said in a statement.
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