FAA Greenlights SpaceX's 4th Starship Flight

By Jose Resurreccion

Jun 05, 2024 05:47 AM EDT

FAA Greenlights SpaceX's 4th Starship Flight
The SpaceX Starship is seen as it stands near the launchpad ahead of its fourth flight test from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas on June 4, 2024.
(Photo : CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Tuesday (Jun. 4) that it has issued a license for the fourth launch of SpaceX's Starship rocket system.

Reuters reported that the Elon Musk-owned company is targeting its fourth Starship flight no earlier than Thursday 07:00 CT (Jun. 6, 12:00 UTC) from its Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

On Saturday (Jun.1), Musk said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter which he also owns since 2022, that the main goal of the mission was to "get much deeper into the atmosphere during reentry."

The FAA also said in a statement that the company has "met all safety and other licensing requirements." for the test flight.

It could be recalled that Reuters published an investigative report earlier this year that revealed that Musk's drive to rapidly iterate Starship was allegedly endangering SpaceX workers in Texas, where the Starship launch pad is, and in California, where its headquarters and West Coast launch facility are located.

Starship's 4th Flight

Starship represents SpaceX's next-generation space vehicle program, which it seeks to launch more satellites to orbit, particularly its Starlink internet constellation, as well as humans to the Moon, Mars, and beyond, while becoming fully-reusable at the same time.

According to the company, the first launch in April 2023 was able to clear the launch tower, which it and spaceflight enthusiasts call Stage Zero, and allow them to have data to improve future iterations of the spaceflight despite blowing up a few minutes after launch. The separation of Starship and the Super Heavy upper stage happened during the second flight in November 2023.

Last March, Starship was able to achieve suborbital flight before its fiery tumble over the Indian Ocean. The fourth flight was intended to achieve an almost-orbital flight for Starship before splashing down west of Hawaii.

Currently, SpaceX relies on its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rocket systems to send astronauts and civilians to the International Space Station, as well as to deliver payloads in Earth orbit.

READ NEXT: SpaceX Considers Selling Shares in Tender Offer, Eyeing $200 Billion Valuation

Starship's dearMoon Mission Canceled

Meanwhile, Space.com reported that the dearMoon mission that was supposed to bring Japanese billionaire Yusaku "MZ" Maezawa and eight other artistic creators in a lunar orbit aboard Starship has been canceled.

The project released a statement on its website Saturday (Jun. 1), saying that the mission, which was supposed to take place by 2023, has become "unfeasible." However, there have been speculations of Musk and Maezawa falling off in their business partnership regarding the project.

Separately, Maezawa wrote on X that he felt "terrible" for making his supposed crew members wait for a longer period of time and apologized to those who have been supportive of the project.

Maezawa himself visited the International Space Station in 2021, supposedly in preparation for dearMoon.

Aside from Maezawa, the dearMoon crew was supposed to be composed of YouTuber Tim Dodd (aka Everyday Astronaut), DJ and music producer Steve Aoki, artist and choreographer Yemi Akinyemi Dele, photographer Karim Iliya, filmmaker Brendan Hall, Indian TV actor Dev Joshi, and South Korean rapper Choi Seung-hyun (aka T.O.P.).

In particular, Dodd expressed his disappointment in a statement on X, saying that his dream of going to the Moon has ended.

READ MORE: UK Satellite Engineering Company Signs $19.7 Million Deal With SpaceX for Starlink Constellations

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