SpaceX's third Starship test flight gets FAA green light

Credit: REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Adds FAA statement in paragraph 2, background on Starship tests in paragraphs 3-5

WASHINGTON, March 13 (Reuters) - The FAA on Wednesday granted SpaceX a license to test-launch the company's Starship rocket system from Texas, according to the agency's website, paving the way for another early demonstration of a spacecraft crucial to Elon Musk's satellite launch business and NASA's moon program.

"The FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy and financial responsibility requirements," the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which oversees launch site safety, said in a statement.

The regulatory sign-off came less than 24 hours before Starship's targeted launch time of 7 a.m. CDT (1200 GMT)on Thursday from SpaceX's Boca Chica, Texas, launch facilities, where the rocket's first two attempts to reach space blasted off from last year.

Starship, a towering two-stage rocket system that will become the centerpiece of Musk's space launch business, will aim to fly farther and clinch more testing objectives than its last two flight tests, including the reignition of the system's upper stage engine and opening its payload door in space.

Unlike the last two tests, both which ended in explosions before reaching a planned splashdown target in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii, the Thursday test flight will launch on a trajectory bound for the Indian Ocean, a flight profile picked by SpaceX to enable the mission's new test objectives, the company said.

(Reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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