Smooth Sailing Ahead for SpaceXs up and Coming Starship Flight Test?

Hype over the first orbital flight test of Starship, SpaceX’s ultra-heavy launch system reached a crescendo this week as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released an air traffic advisory identifying April 10 as a primary launch date. Adding gasoline to the fire, earlier today Elon Musk liked a tweet that simply reads “April 10” with a GIF of a rocket launching. With little more than three weeks until the scheduled test flight and just over two months until it’s due to take off from KSC, SpaceX is quickly steaming ahead with preparations, but fans are still wondering what conditions will prevail when Starship finally blasts off into space.

It seems that SpaceX is still somewaht behind schedule, but the company isn’t giving up yet. It might take a little longer than expected, but SpaceX will ultimately get their license to launch its new Falcon 9 rocket on April 10th.

Civil lawsuits over environmental issues could quickly follow the issuance of Tuesday’s launch license for SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket. A judge could issue a temporary injunction blocking the flight test until that civil suit is resolved, potentially affecting plans to launch several heavy cargo shipments to Mars in 2018.

SpaceX has been criticized for its impact on the environment around Starbase, the company’s Texas-based Starship development facility. The FAA published its final environmental assessment of Starbase and the Starship flight program last year, finding that SpaceX’s plans would not result in significant impacts to the environment and requiring the company to complete a number of mitigation measures before flight testing begins. But environmentalists have long warned that SpaceX’s operations at Starbase could threaten fragile ecosystems nearby.

The Starship launch system has come under scrutiny in recent months as multiple startups have announced plans to utilizing it for their businesses. While some of these plans, like those by SpaceX and Blue Origin, are critical for the future of space commerce and NASA’s Artemis program to return humans to the moon, others like Musks’ BFR project remain uncertain. Regardless of its ultimate success or failure, the launch system is a critical part of humanity’s future in space.

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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