SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell says the company is planning its first orbital launch for July despite not yet having the regulatory approvals it actually neesd to do so.
Shotwell made the announcement during a speaking arrangement at the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference (ISDC) on June 25, according to Space News.
“We are headed for our first orbital attempt in the not-too-distant future. We’re shooting for July,” she said.
“I am hoping we make it, but we all know this is difficult. We are really on the cusp of flying that system, or at least attempting the first orbital flight of that system, in the very near term.”
However, instead of planning a second suborbital flight with the SN15, SpaceX has shifted its focus to preparing for the first orbital test flight.
According to a filing lodged with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on May 13, Space X plans to liftoff from its base in Boca Chica, with the Super Heavy booster landing in the Gulf of Mexico, while the Starship yeets into orbit.
The Starship will then return to Earth after less than one orbit, with SpaceX planning for it to splash down off the coast of Hawaii.
SpaceX planned for the six month mission to beginning on June 20. However, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation is yet to actually issue a launch license for the mission.
As it currently stands, SpaceX only possesses a license for suborbital flights.
Before a license can be approved, the FAA needs to conduct an environmental review of the launch site and plans to ensure launches won’t have a significant negative impact on the surrounding area.
“These actions show a concerning lack of operational control and process discipline that is inconsistent with a strong safety culture,” FAA’s Space Division Chief Wayne Monteith wrote in a letter to Shotwell.
However, it’s unclear if this will impact the launch license for the orbital test flight.
In other SpaceX news, the company’s internet service – Starlink – can now handle 69,420 concurrent users. You truly cannot make this shit up.
Starlink simultaneously active users just exceeded the strategically important threshold of 69,420 last night!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 25, 2021
Shotwell did not mention launch licenses, the FAA or its environmental review during her speech at ISDC.
Gizmodo Australia has reached out to SpaceX for comment.