Elon Musk‘s company SpaceX announced on Friday it hopes to schedule a second test flight of its Starship Super Heavy rocket by mid-November. However, the Federal Aviation Administration still hasn’t given the company the green light to launch.
The second launch, if successful, would bring Musk one step closer to his dream of setting up a colony on Mars. Musk’s goal is to use the Starship’s immense power, created by 33 engines able to generate about 500,000 pounds of thrust each, to reach the barren planet, Insider previously reported. It also uses a fuel called methalox, a mixture of oxygen and methane that could theoretically be made from chemical compounds found on Mars.
The Starship can carry up to 551,000 pounds, per the SpaceX website.
The announcement from SpaceX comes a month after the FAA closed its investigation of the Starship’s first failed launch earlier this year.
Among many issues that the April 20 launch faced — which included a failed separation of the spacecraft and its booster — the rocket created a large crater on its mount. The result was that dust, concrete chunks, and debris were thrown into the surrounding neighborhood.
“After concluding their investigation, the FAA told Insider that it would not allow another Starship to launch until SpaceX implemented the corrective measures identified during the investigation. It also said SpaceX must comply with other regulatory requirements in order to modify its launch licence.
In a press statement on its website, the space company said it will integrate a new method called hot-staging, allowing the spacecraft to ignite its engines and push itself away from the booster to complete the separation.
SpaceX also said it is integrating a flame deflector, powered by water, as well as other enhancements to its launchpad to prevent another crater mishap. Insider previously reported that the flame deflector was missing during the rocket’s initial launch.
“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,” the company wrote.
Now, it’s up to the FAA to complete the pending assessment of the Starship and issue the company’s launch license.
In a Tuesday statement, the FAA announced that it had completed an assessment of safety for Starship and evaluated potential public health issues that might arise during launch. The agency continues to work on an environmental assessment of the rocket under the Endangered Species Act.
US Fish and Wildlife, which is working with the FAA to complete the environmental evaluation, told The Independent that reviews could take up to 135 days. Still, agency staff “do not expect to take the full amount of time.”
The FAA and SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.
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