SpaceX cleared to attempt third Starship launch Thursday

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SpaceX’s next-generation Starship spacecraft atop its powerful Super Heavy rocket is prepared for a third launch from the company’s Boca Chica launchpad on an uncrewed test flight, near Brownsville, Texas, on March 13, 2024.

Joe Skipper | Reuters

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is preparing to launch its third Starship test flight as soon as Thursday morning after federal regulators signed off on the attempt.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday issued SpaceX the launch license the company needed to fly its latest Starship prototype.

The FAA said SpaceX “met all safety, environmental, policy and financial responsibility requirements.”

SpaceX is targeting a launch window between 8 a.m. ET and 9:50 a.m. ET on Thursday. The company plans to livestream the launch, with a webcast beginning 30 minutes before the window opens.

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The company aims to build on the past year’s Starship prototype flights, the second and most recent of which reached space in November. The test flights have had mixed results, with both rockets flying for a few minutes and achieving some milestones before ultimately being destroyed due to problems.

SpaceX and the FAA conducted an investigation into the November launch’s problems, resulting in the company making changes to the monster rocket before the third attempt.

Additionally, SpaceX said it aims to demonstrate new capabilities with the third Starship flight, including opening and closing the door of the spacecraft, transferring fuel during the flight in a NASA demonstration and splashing down in the Indian Ocean.

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