SpaceX has cleared the logistical hurdles standing in the way of the second test flight of its giant Starship vehicle, according to Elon Musk.
Starship's first flight, which launched from SpaceX's Starbase site in South Texas on April 20, didn't last long. The vehicle suffered several problems shortly after liftoff, including the failure of its two stages to separate as planned. As a result, SpaceX engaged Starship's self-destruct system, destroying the rocket high above the Gulf of Mexico.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conducted an investigation into that flight, which the agency wrapped up on Friday (Sept. 8). The investigation identified 63 corrective actions SpaceX "must take to prevent mishap reoccurrence," FAA officials said in an emailed statement on Friday.
This was no mere academic exercise; the FAA awards launch licenses, so SpaceX needs to comply with those findings to get Starship off the ground again. And the company is in good shape to do so now, Musk said.
"Congrats to SpaceX for completing & document[ing] the 57 items required by the FAA for Flight 2 of Starship! Worth noting that 6 of the 63 items refer to later flights," the billionaire entrepreneur posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday (Sept. 10).
A day earlier, Musk posted on X a photo of SpaceX's next Starship vehicle on Starship's orbital launch mount, with the caption "Starship Flight 2."
SpaceX has not yet announced a liftoff date, but Musk has said that Flight 2 can take place pretty much as soon as the FAA awards a launch license. That regulatory step has not yet happened, as far as we know.
The second Starship flight will be similar in its aims to the first one, Musk has said. SpaceX wants to get the vehicle's upper stage partway around Earth, with a targeted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.
SpaceX has big dreams for Starship, the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built. The fully reusable vehicle will make the establishment of human settlements on Mars economically feasible, Musk has said.