SpaceX Aims for Nov. 20 Falcon 9 Launch as it Awaits Re-entry License

Artists conception of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft in orbit

SpaceX Awaiting FAA Approval of Dragon Re-entry License
Space News

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is awaiting U.S. regulatory approval to launch its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo vessel as soon as Nov. 20 after more than a year spent tying up loose ends associated with the recoverable space capsule’s re-entry license application, which the company submitted in final form to federal regulators Oct. 29, according to government and industry sources.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which regulates the launch and re-entry of commercial space vehicles, approved SpaceX’s request for a license covering the launch part of the mission Oct. 15.

However, FAA spokesman Hank Price said the agency is continuing to review the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company’s updated application for the re-entry license, which would be the first ever granted by the agency since Congress gave the FAA authority to license commercial re-entry vehicles in 2004.

“We’ve got the details of the launch set up but they have to come back to us for the re-entry license before this launch license is officially valid,” Price said in a Nov. 2 interview, noting that SpaceX originally submitted its application in April 2009. ”The caveat, with a lower-case ‘c’, is that when doing re-entry, the launch license really is not valid until you receive a re-entry license.”

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