SpaceX has cleared the final hurdle for launching its new giant Starship rocket from Texas as early as next week on a first test flight.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued the long-awaited license on Friday. SpaceX announced that Starship — the world's biggest and most powerful rocket — could soar as soon as Monday.
No people or satellites will be aboard the 394-foot (120-meter) rocket. SpaceX will attempt to send the spacecraft atop the colossal booster around the world, from the southern tip of Texas all the way to Hawaii. The first stage will be discarded in the Gulf of Mexico and the spacecraft into the Pacific. No landings will be attempted for this debut.
It will be the first launch attempt of a full-size Starship, made of shiny stainless steel and powered by methane-fueled engines.
The FAA said SpaceX had met all requirements, including safety and environmental. The license is valid for five years.
"We carefully analyzed the public safety risks during every stage of the mission and required SpaceX to mitigate those risks," the FAA added.
Musk envisions using Starships to send people to the moon and Mars.
NASA has already signed up for a Starship to put astronauts on the lunar surface as early as 2025. Under Artemis program, the NASA has partnered with SpaceX to land humans on Moon. Earlier this month, NASA named four astronauts for Artemis II, including a person of colour and a woman for the first time ever for the Moon mission.
(With AP inputs)