SpaceX is preparing to retry the launch of its Starship rocket on Friday, November 17, after receiving regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
In a tweet, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the upcoming launch is “another chance to put Starship in a true flight environment, maximizing how much we learn.” He said rapid iterative development is essential as the company works to build a fully reusable launch system.
The powerful Starship rocket exploded minutes after its first test launch in April this year at the company’s south Texas facility. The explosion destroyed the rocket but did not result in any injuries. However, it caused extensive damage to the launch pad.
After the failed first mission, SpaceX made dozens of modifications to the rocket. Last month, the FAA completed its safety review and granted a license after SpaceX met safety, environmental and other criteria.
Starship is central to SpaceX’s plans to land NASA astronauts on the moon by 2025 under a $3 billion contract. The company has its sights set on a morning launch on Friday.
During the April test flight, Starship exploded just four minutes after liftoff and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. No one was hurt in the incident. Debris from the launch pad rained down miles away, prompting environmental groups to sue the FAA over harm to wildlife habitats.
SpaceX will be looking to successfully launch and land the massive Starship rocket on its next test flight. The fully reusable vehicle is designed to carry satellites, crews and cargo to Earth orbit, lunar orbit and Mars.