The Federal Aviation Administration has given SpaceX final regulatory approval to carry out Starship’s first orbital flight test. Per Ars Technica, the FAA on late Friday afternoon issued the company a license to launch its next-generation rocket from South Texas. “After a comprehensive license evaluation process, the FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy, payload, airspace integration and financial responsibility requirements,” the agency said in a statement. “The license is valid for five years.”
As of Friday, SpaceX said it would attempt to carry out the long-awaited test on Monday morning, with the launch window opening at 7AM local time. Per Ars Technica’s Eric Berger, the forecast for the Monday launch attempt looks ideal, with moderate winds and clear skies expected. If SpaceX calls the test off, the company has backup opportunities available on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The forecast for Monday morning’s Starship launch attempt looks amazing at the South Texas launch site: Moderate easterly winds, temperatures in the upper 60s (~20°C), and clear skies. Relative humidity is high at the opening of the window, but dropping through the morning.
— Eric Berger (@SciGuySpace) April 15, 2023
Getting to this point has been a long road for SpaceX. In addition to all the technical hurdles it has had to overcome, the FAA put the company’s Boca Chica facility through a comprehensive environmental assessment. Located near the Gulf of Mexico, the launch site is surrounded by wetlands that are home to hundreds of thousands of shorebirds. Last June, the FAA gave SpaceX a list of 75 actions it had to complete to protect the local wildlife around the facility. With those out of the way, now all the company needs to worry about are any remaining technical issues affecting Starship.