SpaceX Granted FAA Permission for Second Starship Test Flight

SpaceX Granted FAA Permission for Second Starship Test Flight

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalised its environmental assessment of SpaceX’s new water deluge system, concluding that it’s no more dangerous than a seasonal rain shower. With that assessment out of the way, and with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also satisfied with its own evaluation, the regulator has given SpaceX the green light for launch.

We’re now closer than ever to the second launch of Space’s colossal Starship, a potentially revolutionary megarocket that could drastically reduce the cost of reaching space and open new possibilities for deep space exploration, including missions to the Moon, Mars and even more distant locations in the solar system.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has finalized its investigation into potential biological and environmental effects posed by SpaceX’s recently installed water deluge system, as the regulator declared in an emailed statement. The water-cooled steel flame deflector is designed to quell the immense power produced by the rocket’s 33 Raptor engines at launch, but the regulator, in cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), wanted to ensure its safety.

With that step complete, the FAA was able to grant SpaceX its approval. “The FAA has given license authorization for the second launch of the SpaceX Starship Super Heavy vehicle,” the regulator said in an emailed statement. “The FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy and financial responsibility requirements.” The FAA regulates the U.S. commercial space industry, ensuring compliance with international obligations and the protection of public health, safety, and national interests.

SpaceX has been granted a comprehensive FAA license for its mission, including all operational phases from liftoff in Boca Chica, Texas, to water landings in the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. This approval came after consultations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a review of the environmental impact, confirming no significant environmental risks.

The FAA’s entire report can be seen here, but in summary, the water deluge system was deemed to be no more threatening to the environment than a summer rain storm:

…an average summertime thunderstorm at Boca Chica would deposit more water over the landscape than any single or all combined activations of the deluge system. Since the amount of water that is anticipated to reach the mud flats from a maximum operation of the deluge system is expected to be less than an average summer rainfall event, this amount of water would be unlikely to alter water quality.

With the launch license secured, SpaceX is ready to go. The second launch of Starship is scheduled for Friday, November 17 at 8:00 a.m. ET, with the launch window ending two hours later. Two FAA space TFRs (temporary flight restrictions) are in effect for Brownsville, Texas, one for Friday and a second TFR going into effect at 8:00 a.m. ET on November 18 and ending one hour later.

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