SpaceX Requests High-Altitude Permission for Its Starship Test Flight

SpaceX's new Starship rocket is due to launch later this year, and has asked the FCC for permission to use its high-altitude radio frequency.
Brad Bergan

SpaceX just asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to make a high-altitude test flight of its highly-anticipated Starship rocket, according to an Engadget report.


SpaceX's next-gen Starship rocket

On the logistical road to SpaceX's push into the final frontier is a suborbital test flight—roughly 20km-high (12.4 miles)—due to launch from Boca Chica, Texas, sometime between March and September of this year. After reaching its maximum altitude, SpaceX will perform a land-and-recover attempt of the vehicle.

But in order to monitor the flight, SpaceX needs access to the FCC's radio frequencies, so it can communicate with the rocket during operations. According to The Verge, this test is meant to show that the Starship rocket can actually touch down safely on the moon or Mars and—perhaps of equal importance—be successfully reused.

Elon Musk's long road to the final frontier

SpaceX started building its next-gen Starship rockets late last year, when the world learned that a facility in Boca Chica, Texas, would become the site of SpaceX's next historic venture into space. At the time CEO Elon Musk said the company planned to make a suborbital test flight within one or two months. Obviously, this ambitious timeframe is business-as-usual for Musk, but one month later, Musk's Starship model popped open in the middle of a "pressure test," which could be the story behind the delay of the test flight until later this year.

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Of course, this was not the first time SpaceX's unique inginuity met with disaster. Its first major catastrophe happened in September 2016, when a Falcon 9 rocket exploded during pre-flight preparations, incinerating a Facebook satellite worth billions of dollars.

Undaunted by this and other mishaps, Elon Musk and SpaceX show no signs of slowing on their mission to take humans to the moon, Mars, and beyond.


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