Elon Musk’s SpaceX must take “corrective action” to prevent another mishap during a Starship rocket test in April before the Federal Aviation Administration grants it another launch permit.

In an emailed statement Friday, the FAA blamed “multiple root causes” for the Starship test launch flaw and said the company needed to redesign its hardware to prevent leaks and fires. In total, it lists 63 actions requiring remediation.

“SpaceX must implement all corrective actions that affect public safety and apply to and obtain license modifications from the FAA prior to the next Starship launch to meet all safety, environmental and other applicable regulatory requirements,” the statement said.

in a post on its websiteSpaceX says testing development hardware in a flight environment allows the company to quickly learn and execute design changes and upgrades to improve the likelihood of future success.

“During Starship’s first flight test, we learned a great deal about the vehicle and ground systems,” SpaceX said.


The conclusion of the accident investigation does not mean SpaceX can immediately resume Starship launches in Boca Chica, Texas, the FAA said. SpaceX must implement all corrective actions that affect public safety. The agency said it must also apply for and obtain a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) license modification to meet all safety, environmental and regulatory requirements before the next Starship launch.

The FAA oversaw an accident investigation after the company grounded the rocket. first test flight On that flight, on April 20, Starship successfully lifted off from the launch pad in Texas, but suffered multiple engine failures during ascent. The two stages then failed to separate as planned and began spinning out of control, prompting SpaceX to blow up the rocket on purpose. The launch damaged SpaceX’s launch pad, scattering debris and powdered concrete across hundreds of acres.

In a letter sent to SpaceX on Friday, the FAA referred to a “structural failure of the launch pad deck foundation.” The FAA said the self-destruct command of SpaceX’s autonomous flight safety system was unexpectedly delayed once the rocket deviated from its planned trajectory. The system, which is used to detonate the vehicle in the event of a major vehicle failure, has been upgraded, SpaceX said in an update. During a test flight in April, it took SpaceX’s flight termination system nearly a minute to cause the vehicle to explode, which was much longer than expected, Musk said.

The FAA said it had enough information and accepted the root cause and corrective actions described in SpaceX’s report. accident report. However, the FAA added that the conclusion of the accident investigation does not predetermine the outcome of ongoing or future environmental reviews.

SpaceX has been working on a number of upgrades since its April 20 launch, including multiple tests The new water shower system is designed to dampen and alter the intense heat and force generated by the starship’s engines as it lifts into space. SpaceX said it had mitigations in place to prevent propellant leaks and other issues. In an update, the company noted that leaking propellant from the Super Heavy booster caused the vehicle to catch fire and eventually sever the connection to Starship’s main flight computer.

Corrective actions mandated by the FAA include redesign of vehicle hardware to prevent leaks and fires, redesign of launch pads, additional review during the design process, analysis and testing of safety-critical systems and components, including autonomous flight safety systems. Specific details of how the rocket failed and the actions the company had to take have not yet been released. It’s unclear how much the corrective actions will cost SpaceX. The FAA said the accident report contained information prohibited by law from being released.

As it turns out, the ramifications of a Starship launch are far-reaching.U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials visited the launch site and spoke privately expressed disbelief in the degree of damage. SpaceX’s launch pad site was “completely destroyed, possibly forcing them to redesign the entire system,” FWS biologist Chris Perez wrote in an email.

environmental groups be accused In May, the FAA said the agency rushed to approve SpaceX’s Starbase launch facility. The FAA said it does not comment on ongoing litigation matters.


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