BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — SpaceX said its prototype Starship is ready for its second flight test pending regulatory approval.
After April’s explosive first flight over Texas, an environmental review is still underway.
Both SpaceX and NASA are looking to Starship to help humanity return to the moon and beyond.
But, the company is still waiting on its Federal Aviation Administration launch license.
SpaceX is developing a Starship human landing system for NASA’s Artemis III mission, the agency’s next lunar landing with astronauts.
“Before they even try to land humans on Artemis III, they’ve got to do an uncrewed test flight one year before,” said Dr. Ken Kremer of Space Up Close. “So that would be next year if they’re aiming for 2025, which seems extremely unlikely.”
This month, NASA’s Office of Inspector General identified returning humans to the moon as one of the agency’s top management and performance challenges.
The OIG report says that after the successful integrated test flight of NASA’s SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft, the focus is now on Artemis II.
And NASA must address various challenges to safely fly four astronauts on their 10-day mission around the moon.
Looking ahead to Artemis III, NASA officials are concerned that technical difficulties associated with SpaceX’s Starship human landing system will delay the mission currently scheduled from Dec. 2025 to sometime in 2026.
The report says the extent of delays will depend on when SpaceX can resume flight testing of the Starship.
“On top of the technical challenges, there are these funding challenges, and they all work together,” Kremer said. “So, if the Congress doesn’t get its act together and support NASA and other science objectives in the federal government, these Artemis moon landings will be delayed.”
SpaceX said it has made a number of modifications since its first flight test to improve the probability of success of future flights.
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