Hype around SpaceX’s orbital flight test is growing, but obstacles remain
The hype surrounding the first orbital flight test of Starship, SpaceX’s ultra-heavy launch system, is growing. That hype started to reach a crescendo this week when the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released an air traffic advisory that listed April 10 as the primary launch date. Pouring gasoline on the fire was something SpaceX CEO Elon Musk liked earlier today a tweet this is simply “10. April” with a GIF of a rocket launch.
While April 10 looks like the closest we’ve got to a halfway solid launch date, the FAA has yet to grant SpaceX that all-important launch license. This final regulatory green light is a non-negotiable step before the company can conduct the test. So far, there is no indication that this license is imminent.
Also as Ars Technica science editor Eric Berger pointed out There is also a very real possibility on Twitter that a civil lawsuit over environmental issues will be filed immediately after the launch license is granted. In that case, a judge would have the authority to issue an injunction blocking the flight test until this civil lawsuit is resolved.
It wouldn’t be the first time SpaceX and environmentalists have fallen out over the company’s activities at Starbase, the Starship development facility in Boca Chica, Texas. Immediately surrounding Starbase are wildlife sanctuaries and a state park, both home to conservationists as fragile ecosystems that could be existentially threatened by ongoing orbital operations. The FAA released its final environmental impact assessment of Starbase and the Starship flight program last summer, noting that SpaceX’s plans would not have a significant impact on the environment and requiring the company to implement a number of mitigation measures before beginning flight testing.
The Starship launch system consists of a Super Heavy Booster and an upper stage, also named Starship. The rocket has become vital to the future of the space economy, with several startups banking on it coming online for their business plans, as well as for NASA, which has made it a core part of its Artemis program to bring humans back to the moon – not to mention its centrality to Musk’s own vision of expanding humanity to Mars.
https://techcrunch.com/2023/04/04/hype-grows-for-spacexs-starship-orbital-flight-test-but-barriers-remain/ Hype around SpaceX’s orbital flight test is growing, but obstacles remain