Cleared to Launch SpaceX on its Third Starship Test Mission

Cleared to Launch SpaceX on its Third Starship Test Mission

SpaceX’s Starship Super Heavy vehicle may conduct its third test flight as early as Thursday morning, thanks to a license (pdf) that the Federal Aviation Administration has granted SpaceX. A 110-minute launch window is scheduled to begin tomorrow, March 14, at 7 AM CT / 8 AM ET / 5 AM PT, according to SpaceX.

In case the launch is canceled or, as we’ve observed on prior efforts, happens just at the start of the launch window, we advise getting up early before the launch if you intend to monitor to see what happens.

The FAA stated that it had “determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy, and financial responsibility requirements” in a post on X, which is owned by Elon Musk, just like SpaceX. The first two Starship launches ended violently even though they both took off and accomplished part of the mission’s objectives.

The first one “left a 385-acre debris field that flung concrete chunks as far as 2,680 feet from the launchpad and sparked a 3.5-acre fire,” in addition to causing major damage to the launchpad. Before the second attempt in the spring of last year, SpaceX was given a list of sixty-three corrective actions by the FAA to address problems including fuel leakage.

Instead of aiming for a location nearer Hawaii as it did with the previous launches, SpaceX claims that for its third launch, it is aiming for a splashdown in the Indian Ocean in order to test things like in-space engine burns “while maximizing public safety.”


A number of ambitious goals are being attempted in the third flight test, which aims to build on the lessons learned from earlier flights. These include the successful ascent burn of both stages, opening and closing the payload door of Starship, demonstrating a propellant transfer during the upper stage’s coast phase, achieving the first-ever re-lighting of a Raptor engine while in space, and a controlled reentry of Starship. Additionally, a new trajectory will be flown, with the goal of having Starship land in the Indian Ocean. By optimizing public safety, this new flight route allows us to try novel tactics like in-space engine burns.

Sanchita Patil

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