THE NEW SPACE RACE: SpaceX seeks a waiver to launch Starship ‘at least’ nine times this year.

SpaceX launched its first Starship vehicle, which is the largest rocket ever built and is intended to eventually be fully reusable, in April 2023. That flight caused serious damage to the launch site near Boca Chica Beach and raised environmental concerns after it kicked up large chunks of concrete and dust into the surrounding wetlands. Coleman said the anomaly investigation and regulatory review process after that flight took about six months, which he believes is commensurate with the work involved.

The company’s second launch attempt in November was more successful, as the first-stage booster, Super Heavy, had a mostly nominal flight, and the Starship upper stage managed to separate from the booster before it experienced an anomaly and was lost. There was no damage on the ground this time. The work entailed by the FAA for this anomaly review was about one-third as much, Coleman said.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has said his company is now targeting early to mid-March for the third launch attempt of Starship. This flight of the highly experimental vehicle, Musk said, has a reasonably good chance of successfully reaching orbit. Coleman said that, from a regulatory standpoint, that timeline sounds “about right.”

Would it be presumptuous to add a “Faster, please?”