SpaceX planning for suborbital test

Crews work on the nosecone of SpaceX's Starship Mk 1 Thursday at the South Texas Ground Control Station near Boca Chica beach outside Brownsville. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

SpaceX has applied to the Federal Communications Commission for Special Temporary Authority to conduct “Starship suborbital test vehicle communications” during launch, landing and recovery at Boca Chica, according to the application.

The requested period of operation is March 16 through Sept. 16, while the maximum altitude of the Starship test launch would be 20 kilometers, or 12.4 miles, per the application.

Musk said in late December that he hoped the stainless-steel-clad Starship SN1 (formerly Starship Mk3) would fly within two or three months. After the first full-sized prototype, Starship Mk1, was damaged in a failed pressurization test on Nov. 20, SpaceX diverted manpower, parts and equipment from its Cocoa, Fla., Starship build site to Boca Chica to speed development of SN1.

Musk said last month that his ultimate production goal is 100 Starships per year, with 1,000 in service within the next decade. SpaceX is designing Starship to carry humans and cargo to Earth destinations, the moon and Mars, with the goal of sending 1 million people to Mars by 2050.