A super rocket that Elon Musk hopes will one day carry people to Mars and the moon has been cleared for its first orbital launch.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted SpaceX a licence to launch the super heavy-lift launch vehicle, comprised of a rocket, dubbed Super Heavy, and spacecraft, dubbed Starship, into orbit from its Texas base on Friday, having cleared regulatory checks.
The commercial rocket manufacturer tweeted soon after that it would target Monday 17 April for the launch.
At almost 400-feet tall, Starship is one of the most powerful rockets ever built. The FAA told City A.M. “After a comprehensive license evaluation process, the FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy, payload, airspace integration and financial responsibility requirements. The licence is valid for five years.”
The launch rocket boasts over 30 raptor engines and is designed to carry up to 100 people on “interplanetary” missions, according to SpaceX.
NASA has already awarded SpaceX a contract to develop Starship for exploration of the moon as part of its Artemis project.
The Starship rocket has already gone through a number of test flights, four of which have ended in explosions.
The Starship spacecraft is reusable and is designed to land back on earth vertically. However, for this test flight, Starship is expected to splash down off the coast of Hawaii after completing its orbit, according to reports. The Super Heavy rocket booster will also splash down in the ocean before that, near the Gulf of Mexico.
The 150-minute test window will begin at 7am central time on Monday, SpaceX said. It will also stream the takeoff on its site.