“SpaceX’s Starship vehicle is ready to fly, just waiting for a launch license”

Starship is seen stacked on top of the Super Heavy rocket on April 5, 2023.

This weekend SpaceX engineers completed a final “flight readiness review” for the massive Super Heavy and Starship launch system, declaring the vehicle ready to make its debut test flight. SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced the decision early Sunday morning on Twitter, saying the vehicle was only “awaiting regulatory approval” before launching.

Presently, the company is targeting April 17, at 7 am local time in South Texas (12:00 UTC) for the integrated flight test of the launch system. It should be quite a show—the combination of the Super Heavy first stage and Starship upper stage is the largest and most powerful rocket ever built. Sources said SpaceX has been working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to provide the necessary data about Starship’s performance and its impacts to the area surrounding the launch site. There is an expectation that a launch license will be issued this week, but there is no guarantee this will happen.

SpaceX also plans one final test, a “launch rehearsal,” on Tuesday. During this test the rocket’s first and second stages will be fueled as if they were going to launch, but the rocket’s engines will not ignite. This test will increase the company’s confidence in its ability to fuel the Starship launch system and ready it for liftoff on the day of the actual launch. If SpaceX does target Monday, April 17, for liftoff from its Starbase facility in South Texas, the early indications are that launch site weather will be fair. At present there appears to be only very low rain chances and moderate surface-level winds.

During this flight test, if it proceeds nominally, the Super Heavy rocket will fire for a couple of minutes before separating from the upper stage and making a controlled descent into the Gulf of Mexico. Like SpaceX did with some of its early Falcon 9 rocket first stages, the company will monitor the vehicle’s performance to see if they are ready to attempt a land-based landing on future missions. After separating from the Super Heavy rocket, the Starship upper stage will seek to reach orbital velocity before reentering the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. SpaceX plans to land Starship vertically, into the ocean, north of the Hawaiian islands.


Comment: Once the bureaucrats are assured that all the papers are in order, we are in for a real show… one way or the other. Elon gives the mission a 50-50 chance of success. As long as the whole thing doesn’t blow up on the launch pad and take out a lot of the launch infrastructure with it, it will be a success. I don’t think Starship is scheduled to orbit the Earth this time, but still has to do a reentry. At least the tiles are a more proven technology than the original plan of oozing rocket fuel through holes in the hull as a coolant. And then Starship is supposed to either land on a barge for the first time or vertically into the ocean. I’ve read different orbiting and landing scenarios in recent stories. Like I said, it’ll be a real show one way or the other.

If all goes well, or even mostly well, humanity will soon have a space lift capability far beyond anything we have ever had before. We can colonize the Moon and Mars, place telescopes in space that dwarf the James Webb Observatory and build a space station like the one in 2001: A Space Odyssey. That is if we can first pull our collective heads out of our collective asses. Russia is still building her interplanetary nuclear powered space tug and China has demonstrated some amazing space know how. If we can work together in this one arena, rather than working to blow each other’s stuff out of space, we can embark on a real age of space discovery. 


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8 Responses to “SpaceX’s Starship vehicle is ready to fly, just waiting for a launch license”

  1. james ticehurst.. says:

    I Would Like to Think This Flight will be a Perfect..What Musk is Doing for Our
    Space Program Is Profound..His History..Research..Timing..R & D..Connecting His Genius to Persons..Places..With Perfect Progress…In a Remarkable Short Time..

    Thank you TTG..for keeping This Focus….It Is All Good..Col..All Good..

    Manifest Destiny..? Intervention…Guidance…?? I Suspect So..I am a Believer..

    Yes..China Has Remarkable Roll Outs of all Kinds of Copys of American Products…
    Mostly Space and Military.. Enabled..But in the End..They will Be Cursed..Destroyed.

    The ROCK…in The Sling..of Gods Hand…

    It Is Written…


  2. Master Slacker says:

    What this flight, even if partially successful, will do is drop the cost per kg down to an anyone can pay for this level. That’s where the real innovators live. I wish SpaceX great good fortune, Elon not so much.

  3. Deap says:

    I can never forget Col Lang’s enthusiasm for SpaceX launches and shall salute every Starlink launch I am able view from my Central California back deck.

    When that fiery ball shoots up into the heavens, I’ll know who still looking down at his carefully curated flock. He will be so missed. Thanks TTG for carrying on, with style.

    Watch SpaceX launches live: https://www.spacex.com/launches/sl3-4/

  4. cobo says:

    In a better world, Russia, China, South and Southeast Asia, the Pacific Island Nations, Europe, Africa and the Americas would collaborate to identify and deflect space threats, to acquire and exploit the resources of asteroids, to recover the pristine health of the oceans, to reverse desertification and provide for boundless freshwater supplies. We can do this, and we can start now. However, mankind is infected with a sickness. No matter how far we advance, the sickness infects our minds and bodies. This sickness drives us into the collective passions, dispassionately and methodically pursued, to desire the collective rage and the joy of bloodlust and war.

    • Deap says:

      Tribal is a good word to describe this. Just back from visiting the Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve – it was super bloom this year.

      And realized even flowers are tribal – they cluster together, share a bit of space with their neighbors, but proudly show off their own competitive bloomage in their own unique niches in their own struggle for survival.

      Swaths of orange poppies stand out among swaths of yellow flowers and of purple flowers who stick pretty much to themselves too. They chose not to “come together”.

      Instead of “coming together” we should respect we too gravitate towards tribal securities, and fight for our own airspace when threatened ….perhaps mainly against those who sinisterly demand we should “all come together – translated always as: think like me, or else.

      What would “equity” look like in the world of wild flowers – all the same color, not demanding to stand out uniquely by color, scent or design, and all supporting a single externally chosen goal?

      What then should we learn from nature about this inherent “tribal” nature we see demonstrated in virtually every layer of the living experience, rather than claim we suffer from it?

      Another California legislative demand, contrary to nature – demands for “free range chickens only” to be sold in this state.

      Only to learn after farmers being forced to install portals and outside free-ranging chicken yards, that chickens when left along like to flock together anyway.

      Their instincts and biology are programed not to free range – and get picked off alone by chicken hawks. I will leave it at that.

      No, we can’t all get along. An no, I don’t want to “come together”. I want to protect my own sense of responsible uniqueness (shared express rights and duties), but also the right to be left alone.

      Yes, Col Lang and I parted company over “Ukraine”. There was no shared right to this website – it was his alone, all along.

  5. Christa Jess says:

    To the turcopolier.com owner, Your posts are always well-delivered and engaging.

  6. Burt says:

    I met a docent named James French at the Lyons Aviation Museum at the John Wayne Airport this week. He still (at 86 years of age!) is a consultant for Blue Origin (Jeff Bezos/Amazon) and wrote a book about his work on the Saturn 5 rocket engines titled “Firing a Rocket”. Amazing man and amazing career, involved with North American/RocketDyne with the Saturn/Apollo program and nearly every Mariner space exploration vehicle. He was saying that vertical recovery is an old idea, and should have been used much earlier, but fortune favored “winged” recovery vehicles like the shuttle. He wishes Blue Origin would be more ambitious, but Elon Musk has been leading innovation lately. I got the feeling he would love to be consulting and working for Musk, but his contract with Blue Origin is exclusive.

  7. jim ticehurst.. says:

    MUSK is Right about AI…It is Dangerous….It cannot Creat…It is Programmed
    to Copy…The Data It has been given By Humans.
    .But..It Has Dangerous POWER in a Cyber ASS TECH World..In Evil Hands..

    The Keys to a Kingdom..are At Hand..Because The Keys of the Keyboard..Are
    The Devils Organ…The Sound is Insane…When you See How The World Dances.
    .Where Musk is Alone …Against The Wind Mills..That Spin…and Spew..BS
    How Many Musketeer’s,..Lads…? How Many Defenders…How Many Destroyers..

    That Love The Smell of NA..PALM Power.. tell Me Pilgrims ..How Does it Finish..?

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