Gwynne Shotwell, the president of SpaceX, has announced that the company is hoping to have its Starship rocket launch into orbit this July. She added that SpaceX was on the "cusp of flying that system", noting that the timelines are difficult albeit doable. The first orbital test of the Starship rocket is expected to last about 90 minutes.
The plan is to launch the rocket from south Texas and have it splash down the coast of Hawaii. Despite this, SpaceX has not yet received the regulatory approval needed to launch the rocket into orbit. According to various news sources, at the moment the company is conducting a comprehensive assessment of the wildlife and ecosystem around the launch area just to be sure things are okay.
But so far, the assessments haven’t moved as fast as the space company wanted. It is emerging that the potential launch date could be pushed back. But there is still more time for SpaceX to step up and get everything done. There is also confidence that it’s only a matter of time before the company is granted a launch license by the Federal Aviation Administration as it concludes the required reviews.
After all, it’s not the first time SpaceX is launching a rocket into orbit. They know the drill and how everything works. It is, however, important to note that the current license that the California-based company has only covers permits for suborbital rockets. But the only thing SpaceX needs to do to get approval is to show with evidence that the launch will not in any way damage the wildlife and the ecosystem around the launch area.
Besides, the Starship is one of the heaviest rockets ever built by the company. It could therefore have a massive impact if the launch is not controlled well. Despite this, SpaceX will still need to commission a comprehensive environmental impact assessment even if the license is granted by the FAA in time for the proposed July launch.
This can take the best part of three years. While making the planned launch dates, SpaceX’s President Shotwell did not mention the impact assessments and how far the company has come in doing them. But the fact that the company remains very upbeat about the upcoming launch could be an indication that indeed they are already on the right track.
Launching Starship into orbit will be a huge step for SpaceX. The company has been working on the rocket for quite some time. But launch protocols for it are probably going to be very different seeing that this is a heavy and large rocket. Shotwell was clear that there are no guarantees when launching these things.
Anything can happen so it’s better to be ready for it. It won’t also be the first time SpaceX has had to deal with a launch setback. But the company has always done so well to come back and there is no doubt that things are looking good.