By David Shepardson and Joey Roulette
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A key SpaceX Starship Super Heavy rocket launch test could happen next week, according to a planning notice posted Tuesday by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The FAA notice said the launch’s primary expected date is April 10, but listed backup dates as April 11 and 12. Billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket and satellite company must still get a launch license for what is expected to be its first orbital flight test from Boca Chica, Texas.
“The FAA has not made a license determination for the SpaceX Starship Super Heavy operation, and the FAA’s Command Center planning notice should not be interpreted as an indicator that a determination to issue a license has been made or is forthcoming,” the FAA said in a statement.
SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment.
SpaceX’s launch license for the Starship test could be granted by the FAA on Monday, according to a person familiar with the process who asked not to be named. They cautioned that the licensing process, while nearing completion, could take longer due to an environmental compliance review.
The test mission will mark the first launch of SpaceX’s fully-stacked, 394-foot (120-metre) tall Starship rocket system, consisting of a Starship rocket sitting atop a “Super Heavy” first stage booster with 33 rocket engines.
The rocket system is expected to launch from the company’s Starbase facilities in Texas and deploy the Starship second stage into space, where it will complete a full orbit before reentering Earth’s atmosphere and splashing down dozens of miles off a coast in Hawaii.
The Super Heavy booster will attempt a landing in Texas near its launch site. SpaceX says Starship will be a fully reusable transportation system to carry crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond.
(Reporting by David Shepardson and Joey Roulette in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler and Sonali Paul)