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SpaceX says second Starship test launch could come as early as Friday
SpaceX says second Starship test launch could come as early as Friday
by Clyde Hughes
Washington DC (UPI) Nov 15, 2021

SpaceX expects to be able to launch the second test flight of its hulking Starship as early as Friday pending final approval by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The company said it would host a live stream of the launch 30 minutes before liftoff once the test is approved.

"Was just informed that approval to launch should happen in time for a Friday launch," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a post on X Monday.

The Starship exploded over the Gulf of Mexico in April shortly after takeoff, leading to the investigation and sending SpaceX back to the drawing board for improvements.

The rocket comes with new engines, called Raptors. In a static fire test in September, all 33 Raptor engines lit up, giving hope for a successful second test flight.

"Starship's first flight test provided numerous lessons learned that directly contributed to several upgrades to both the vehicle and ground infrastructure to improve the probability of success on future flights," SpaceX said in a statement.

The FAA said in September that SpaceX must make 63 "corrective actions" to receive approval and prevent another explosion. The FAA, among other things, cited hardware redesigns, increased reviews of the design process and improvements to its launching pad.

The commercial space company said the new test will introduce a hot-stage separation system and a new electronic Thrust Vector Control system for Super Heavy Raptor engines. SpaceX said it has also reinforced the pad foundation and added a "water-cooled steel flame deflector."

The ground infrastructure from SpaceX's Boca Chica, Texas, launch pad became an unexpected story after Starship's April liftoff. The rocket's powerful engines dispersed debris, including concrete chunks, over 385 acres belonging to SpaceX and the Boca Chica state park.

"This rapid iterative development approach has been the basis for all of SpaceX's major innovative advancements, including Falcon, Dragon, and Starlink. Recursive improvement is essential as we work to build a fully reusable transportation system capable of carrying both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, help humanity return to the Moon, and ultimately travel to Mars and beyond," SpaceX said.

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