Musk announces that the spacecraft is ready for its second test flight, after assembly – now spaceflight

An aerial view of a fully stacked Starship at Starbase, Texas, on September 6, 2023. Photo: SpaceX.

Another fully integrated SpaceX Starship towers over the south Texas skyline, and company founder Elon Musk said in his view they’re ready for launch.

Over the course of several hours Tuesday at the test facility near Boca Chica Beach, SpaceX teams lifted the upper stage of the Starship rocket, S25, atop the Super Heavy Booster, dubbed Booster 9 or B9, which was already under launch mount.

After the operation, Musk took to his social media platform X, to announce that “Starship is ready for launch, pending (FAA) license approval.”

While some of the Air and Navy’s warning notices indicate that the launch could be fairly close, the second item of Musk’s post will be the big deciding factor in determining when the second launch of the fully integrated Starship rocket will take place.

SpaceX submitted its final accident investigation report to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over the summer, after the failed launch attempt on April 20th. It’s part of a SpaceX-led accident investigation that’s being overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

An agency spokesperson told Spaceflight Now in a July 28 statement that the goal of its oversight is to “ensure SpaceX complies with the FAA-approved Incident Investigation Plan and other regulatory requirements.”

“The incident investigation is designed to enhance public safety. It will determine the root cause of the incident and identify corrective actions that the operator must implement to avoid a recurrence of the event,” the spokesperson said.

Also because of their interests, NASA and the NTSB also have official observer status for the investigation.

When will Starship FT2 be released?

Since it first launched in the spring, SpaceX has been busy making updates to both the Starship rocket as well as the infrastructure surrounding the launch pad.

They added a water deluge system at the base of the orbital launch pad to protect the platform from damage seen during the first launch attempt.

The teams also added a hot launch ring to the top of the Super Heavy booster to change the way the first and second stages of the rocket separate as it climbs.

It’s not clear what updates and additional requirements the FAA will require of SpaceX before the agency will grant another launch authorization to the Starship. The schedule is no longer confirmed.

Starship 25 is lifted atop the Super Heavy booster by the “chopsticks” launch pad. Image: SpaceX.

There is also a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Bird Conservancy of America, the Surfrider Foundation, Save RGV (Rio Grande Valley) and the Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas.

According to the latest court filing on July 25, a joint case report is scheduled to be filed with the US District Court for the District of Columbia by October 27, 2023.

Jared Margolis, lead attorney for the CBD, told Spaceflight Now in a statement Sept. 6 that the administrative record is scheduled to be filed by the end of September. After agreement on the contents of the registry, dates for submission of summary judgment requests will be determined, possibly during the fall and winter semesters.

Standing tall on the Starbase launch pad, Ship 25 and Booster 9 prepare for their second integrated test flight. Image: SpaceX.

Margolis added that they are also looking into other options “if the FAA allows SpaceX to proceed with additional launches before it complies with NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) requirements, including supplemental analysis to address the launch explosion (April 20) and subsequent changes to the launch program.”

“With respect to recent testing and the possibility of another release, we believe that such activities violate the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, both of which require additional analysis as described above, and preclude such activities while supplemental analysis is necessary.” “Waiting for the status quo to be maintained,” Margolis told Spaceflight Now. “And so we remain very concerned that the FAA has not made it clear that no further launches will be permitted until all applicable environmental laws are complied with.”

Spaceflight Now has reached out to the FAA for clarification, but has not received a response at the time of publication.

It’s not clear if the FAA will require the lawsuit to be resolved before the Starship’s second test flight, as is the case with the FAA’s accident investigation.

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