Starship is now 'ready to fly' again, according to Elon Musk

SpaceX must await Federal Aviation Administration approval before it can launch the fully-stacked Starship for a second time.
Chris Young
The fully-stacked Starship launch system at Starbase.
The fully-stacked Starship launch system at Starbase.

SpaceX / X 

SpaceX's massive Starship rocket is ready to fly again.

The private space company has released images and footage of the fully stacked Starship launch system — made up of the upper stage Ship 25 and the "Super Heavy" first stage prototype Booster 9 — at its Starbase facility in South Texas.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote, "Starship is ready to launch, awaiting FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] license approval."

Starship is ready to fly

SpaceX has essentially confirmed that its major pre-flight preparations are complete, having conducted a series of static fire engine tests on both Ship 25 and Booster 9 in recent months.

Starship is the world's most powerful rocket, having surpassed NASA's Space Launch System, which produced roughly 9.5 million lbs of thrust at liftoff during the Artemis I mission.

During its first test flight, which ended in a dramatic manually triggered explosion, Starship is estimated to have produced an enormous 17 million lbs of thrust at launch thanks to the 33 Raptor Engines attached to the Super Heavy's first stage.

Starship will be the first vertical launch system to be fully reusable. That will dramatically lower the cost of successive launches, making human spaceflight to Mars possible and fulfilling Elon Musk's ambitions to make humanity a multi-planetary civilization.

The fully-stacked Starship launch system, which stands 394 feet tall (120 meters), flew for the first time on April 20. Though that test flight ended in an explosion at high altitude, SpaceX states that it gained a wealth of valuable data from the launch.

It has since made "well over a thousand" changes to Starship, according to Musk. Those include the introduction of a "vented interstage" and a heat shield on the top of its Super Heavy prototype to allow for a hot-staging separation after launch.

Now, SpaceX is ready to launch Starship for its second test flight. Once it takes to the skies, it will once again aim to fly Starship to orbit where it would perform a partial orbit of Earth before descending for a hard splashdown in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.

SpaceX still has regulatory hurdles to overcome

Though Starship is prepared for its next orbital launch attempt, a few factors may delay the launch of the massive Mars rocket.

The FAA has yet to grant a launch license for the second test flight of Starship and the agency is still reviewing a mishap report following the first launch of Starship.

An environmental group has also filed a lawsuit against the FAA following the first Starship launch, which could further delay the process.

The first Starship launch blew a crater into the launch pad at Starbase, sending debris far and wide. The extensive damage is believed to have damaged nearby wildlife habitats, reportedly leaving wildlife officials stunned.