Elon Musk's Starship Stands Ready, But Awaiting FAA Nod For Over A Month

More than a month ago, on Sept. 5, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that its Starship is ready to launch and merely awaiting the green light from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Despite the days and weeks that have passed, the launch approval is still pending.

What Happened: “Starship fully stacked while the team prepares for a launch rehearsal. We continue to work with the FAA on a launch license,” SpaceX wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday. Several pictures of the launch vehicle at Starbase accompanied the post.

SpaceX conducted the first test launch of Starship on April 20. The rocket exploded in less than four minutes after take-off, damaging the launch pad at Starbase and raining down dust on Port Isabel residents. The FAA commenced an investigation into the crash, which it closed in September, recommending 63 corrective actions. SpaceX has implemented all the fixes required ahead of the second flight test.

However, the closure of the investigation does not signal an immediate resumption of Starship launches at Boca Chica, the FAA clarified then.

"Further, the FAA’s closure of the mishap investigation does not predetermine the results of any ongoing or future environmental reviews associated with Starship operations at Boca Chica," FAA wrote in its letter to SpaceX dated Sept. 7.

Why It Matters: The initial launch license procured by SpaceX authorized it to conduct just one launch, and the company has to procure a modified license to allow for more launches.

Last month, Musk expressed frustration at the delay and termed it ‘unacceptable.’ "That is unacceptable. It is absurd that SpaceX can build a giant rocket faster than they can shuffle paperwork!," Musk wrote on X. He was responding to a user who flagged that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FWS) officials are yet to begin a formal review of SpaceX's upgrades.

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