FAA Approval of Launch License for Starship’s Second Flight Awaited by SpaceX

SpaceX is eagerly awaiting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the launch license of the second test flight of Starship, the world’s most powerful rocket. The FAA recently closed its investigation into an anomaly that occurred during the first Integrated Flight Test of Starship. During the investigation, SpaceX identified corrective actions to prevent similar issues from happening again. CEO Elon Musk released a list of 63 corrective actions, with six to be completed on later flights.

Significant upgrades have been made to Booster 9 in preparation for the second flight. These upgrades include the addition of methane sensors to each engine bay and a new fire suppression capacity/purge system. SpaceX has also implemented measures to detect and manage methane leaks from the Raptor engines to avoid further fires.

Booster 9 has undergone various improvements, including replacing seals within valves, manifolds, and flanges to reduce propellant leaks. SpaceX has installed over 90 cameras on the booster to monitor any possible leaks during flight or ground testing. The flight safety system has been upgraded, and insulation has been added to the avionics harnesses on the booster and ship. The routing of wire harnesses to the flight computer has also been improved.

Ship 25 and Booster 9 have not undergone testing since they were stacked. However, it is likely that a cryo test will be conducted on Ship 25 to test the ship quick disconnect after modifications. There are no indications of a wet dress rehearsal before the second flight, but plans may change as SpaceX approaches launch.

SpaceX has installed a deluge system at the launch pad to mitigate the “rock tornado” observed during lift-off. CEO Elon Musk has stated that the vehicle is ready to launch, pending FAA approval. The work platform has been lowered from under the orbital launch mount, indicating that engine work is complete and ready for additional testing or flight.

Ship 26 and Booster 10 are expected to be the next stack for flight three. However, Ship 28 may also be paired with Booster 10 depending on the outcome of the second flight. If the second flight is successful, Ship 28 will likely fly with Booster 10 to test more ships in space. If the second flight does not reach stage separation, Ship 26 may fly with Booster 10 to gather more booster flight data.

Booster 10 has undergone cryo testing and is currently being prepared for additional testing. The thrust puck on Booster 10 will be tested, and modifications such as new mounts and vents have been installed.

Future vehicles, including Ship 28, Ship 29, Ship 30, Ship 31, and Ship 32, are in various stages of completion. Ship 28 has been equipped with cowbells and engine shielding, while Ship 29 is awaiting its turn for stacking at Masseys. Ship 30 is having its heat shield worked on, and Ship 31 is halfway stacked. Sections of Ship 32 are sitting in the ringyard.

Booster 11 is awaiting a cryo test and was recently rolled into the Mega Bay. Booster 12 has been fully stacked and is undergoing final preparations. Booster 13 is in the early stages of stacking and features upgrades such as a fourth vent on the common dome section.

As SpaceX awaits FAA approval for the launch license of Starship’s second flight, it continues to make significant upgrades and improvements to ensure the success and safety of future missions. The advancements in technology and engineering showcased by SpaceX highlight the company’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of space exploration.