SpaceX says it’s ready to launch its Starship rocket as early as Friday if the FAA can grant permission by then. The 400-foot system has been poised at the pad at SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas, “Starbase” for several weeks while the FAA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service go over the potential environmental impact of the new water deluge system designed to minimize the mayhem unleashed by the 33 engines on the Falcon Super Heavy booster in the April 20 launch.
Without the water buffer, the rocket blew the launch pad to pieces and created a plume of dust and debris that spread five miles. Four minutes later, the rocket itself was destroyed by SpaceX when the booster failed to separate. The FAA grounded the system until dozens of safety changes were made, the addition of the deluge system among them. The safety review was completed Oct. 31 but the environmental study kept going. Although federal agencies haven’t announced anything, local authorities are taking SpaceX’s Friday prediction seriously and have set up a safety perimeter around the launch complex.