SpaceX Sets Possible Dates For Starship’s Second Orbital Test Launch

The first Starship orbital test ended in explosion, but SpaceX CEO Elon Musk considered it a success.

SpaceX Starship rocket
The SpaceX Starship lifts off from the launchpad during a flight test from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, on April 20, 2023. PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

SpaceX is looking to launch the second orbital test of Starship, the rocket designed to conquer Mars, as soon as June 15, according to a permit application to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on May 15.

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The Elon Musk-led company has requested a six-month window from June 15 to December 15 to launch a Starship prototype to Earth’s orbit from the company’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, according to the application. The FCC regulates all spacecraft communication in Earth’s orbit. SpaceX hasn’t said whether Starship’s second orbital launch attempt will carry any payload, but said in Monday’s application an FCC “special temporary authority” is necessary for the mission. Before going interplanetary, Starship will first be used as a regular launch vehicle to send SpaceX’s Starlink satellites and other payloads to Earth’s orbit. To actually launch, SpaceX will also need permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which issues rocket launch licenses.

Starship’s first orbital test exploded

SpaceX attempted the first orbital launch of Starship on April 20 from Boca Chica. A nearly 400-foot-tall rocket prototype, comprised of an upper stage called SN20 and a Super Heavy booster, lifted off successfully and soared to about 20 miles in the sky before blowing up. The explosion damaged the rocket’s launch pad and scattered debris and dust for miles from the launch site.

The result wasn’t a complete surprise. Musk said before the launch there was only a 50 percent chance of Starship reaching orbit on the first attempt. He considered the test a success and tweeted that the SpaceX team “learned a lot for [the] next test launch in a few months.”

FAA is conducting a “mishap investigation” into Starship’s first test launch. It’s part of a standard procedure following an anomaly during a rocket launch such as an explosion.

SpaceX Sets Possible Dates For Starship’s Second Orbital Test Launch