Testing of SpaceX’s Starship SN9 Scheduled


SpaceX‘s latest starship prototype is expected to be launched for its test flight. The company has set Monday of February 1 for the much-awaited test flight, which is expected to launch the stainless-steel Starship SN9 vehicle up to about 6.2 miles into South Texas’s atmosphere.

The initial launch was scheduled for January 28, but it had to be postponed due to the late reception of the proper documentation and approvals from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a delay the FAA attributed to an ongoing safety review. The spokesperson for FAA, while speaking to Space.com via an email, stated that the FAA was ready to continue working together with SpaceX to resolve the safety issues before giving a green light for the next test flight.

SpaceX’s founder and CEO Elon Musk was not happy with the delay as he is known for his aggressive and ambitious timelines for his projects. In a comment through Twitter, Musk stated that there was a broken regulatory structure in the FAA space division, unlike its aircraft division. He stated that the rules structured by the space division were only meant for a few stretchy launches per year done from a government facility, and with this, he further stated that humanity would never get to mass.

Musk and SpaceX exhibited some hope for approval to come in time to allow for the liftoff by telling the residents of Boca Chica, a village next to the site, to evacuate their homes. Though the order was rescinded and the test flight postponed to Monday, there is no assurance that the FAA would have given the approval by then.

As per an email sent out by an FAA spokesperson, the FAA will be working together with SpaceX so as to take a look at extra data given by the company as a constitute of its application to make changes on its launch license. The email detailed that the FAA was aware of the importance of quicker fostering of growth and innovation in commercial space, but they were not going to make any compromise on public safety. It further stated that FAA would only be able to make approval on the modifications only after being content that SpaceX has made the necessary steps to conform to the rules and regulations.

The SN9 ship boasts of two elements that are structured to be fully and easily reused. It consists of a 165-foot-tall spacecraft, the Starship, and a giant rocket, the Super Heavy, powered by SpaceX’s next-generation Raptor engines. The SN9 launch is not expected to be the last starship prototype flight as SpaceX has already rolled out the SN10 towards the launch pad.