SpaceX could reportedly delay its first Starship orbit mission because the FAA wants to know the launch won't harm nearby wildlife

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spacex starship sn15 landing success happy elon musk
SpaceX's Starship SN15 rocket successfully landed in May. SpaceX; Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images
  • SpaceX may have to delay its mission to test its Starship rocket in orbit, a source told CNN.

  • SpaceX wanted to launch Starship in July, but environmental reviews could push it back, the source said.

  • The reviews should ensure SpaceX isn't harming wildlife around its South Texas launch pad.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

SpaceX may have to delay its first Starship rocket orbit mission because of ongoing assessments of wildlife and ecosystems around the launch area, a source told CNN on Tuesday.

The launch was scheduled for July, according to a tweet from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. NASA Spaceflight reported in March that SpaceX's internal goal for launch was July 1.

But the date could be pushed back due to ongoing environmental reviews that need to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before SpaceX can get a launch license, the source, who is familiar with the licensing process, told CNN.

SpaceX needs to conduct an environmental assessment to ensure that the Starship-Super Heavy system won't harm nearby wildlife or ecosystems around its launch pad in Boca Chica, Texas.

The assessments and a launch license won't be processed in time for an early July launch, the source told CNN.

The company may ultimately need a new environmental impact statement, which could take up to three years to complete, Insider's Morgan McFall-Johnsen and Aylin Woodward reported in March.

Musk's space company has launched five prototypes of the 16-story Starship rocket. The first four exploded, but the fifth landed successfully, meaning Starship can now be tested with the 23-story Super Heavy booster, designed to blast the rocket into orbit.

The first orbital test of Starship, which is due to take around 90 minutes, is set to launch from South Texas and splash down off the coast of Hawaii, according to the company's FCC filing in May.

SpaceX eventually wants the Starship system to carry humans to the moon and to Mars, returning back to Earth for repeat trips.

Musk has said he is "highly confident" that SpaceX will launch an uncrewed Starship to Mars in 2024, followed by a crewed mission in 2026. Space industry experts told Insider that SpaceX could well reach Mars, but not as soon as Musk hopes.

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