Updated January 12th, 2024 at 17:28 IST

SpaceX targets launch of Starship's third mission in February

SpaceX could launch the Starship rocket for the third time ever in February 2024 after procuring a license from the FAA, an official said.

Reported by: Harsh Vardhan
The Starship rocket launching in its second mission. | Image:SpaceX
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SpaceX could launch the Starship rocket for the third time ever in February 2024. During a press conference held by NASA on January 10 regarding updates on the Artemis Program, a SpaceX official said that Starship will be ready for launch in January in terms of hardware but an approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will push the date to February.

"We're expecting that license to come in February. So, it's looking like like (flight) three will occur in February of this year," SpaceX Vice President of Customer Operations and Integration Jessica Jensen said at the press conference per Space.com.

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The Starship upper stage at Starbase, Texas. Image: SpaceX

SpaceX has launched Starship twice - first on April 20 and again on November 18 in 2023 - and the rocket ended up exploding mid air on both occasions.

Jensen reportedly said that SpaceX is currently working on improvements that needs to be made after the failure in second test flight.

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At the press conference, both NASA and SpaceX also discussed Starship's in-orbit fueling system required for Artemis Moon missions. Since 2021, NASA has offered SpaceX two contracts worth over $4 billion to develop Starship rockets that will take humans to the Moon.

In order for that to happen, SpaceX also needs to validate the in-orbit fueling system as Starship would need a lot of propellant to first escape Earth, fill its tanks and eventually reach the Moon. NASA will start using Starship for Moon landings starting Artemis 3, which has been delayed from 2025 to 2026.

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Jensen said at the press conference that it would take around 10 Starship flights before it is ready for orbital fuel transfers for Artemis 3. 

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Published January 12th, 2024 at 17:27 IST