FAA orders SpaceX to ground Starship and take corrective action

The Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday that SpaceX is not yet ready for another test flight of its Starship Super Heavy launch vehicle.

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The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday that Elon Musk’s SpaceX needs to ground its Starship Super Heavy rocket and that the company needs to take 63 corrective actions before it’s cleared for another test flight.

The FAA has now completed its investigation into the April launch, in which the rocket exploded mid-flight.

SpaceX CEO Musk had claimed Tuesday in a post on X (formerly Twitter), which he now owns, that “Starship is ready for launch and awaiting FAA license approval.”

In an emailed statement, the agency said a final report identified “several root causes for the April 20, 2023 accident and 63 corrective actions SpaceX must take to prevent the accident from happening again.”

Corrective actions include: “Redesign of the vehicle hardware to prevent leaks and fires, redesign of the launch pad to increase its robustness, incorporation of additional reviews into the design process, additional analysis and testing of safety-critical systems and components, including the autonomous flight safety system and the application.” additional change control practices.

In order for SpaceX to resume Starship launches at its Boca Chica, Texas facility, the company must implement “all corrective actions affecting public safety” as determined by the FAA and request and receive a “license modification.” the FAA”, which takes into account all safety and other environmental regulations.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The FAA oversaw the investigation into the SpaceX accident, while NASA and the National Transportation Safety Board served as official observers. A full breakdown investigation report will not be released because it contains sensitive data including US export control information.

On the first Starship launch, the nearly 400-foot-tall rocket flew for more than three minutes — but it lost several engines, caused severe damage to ground infrastructure, and failed to reach space after the rocket began to stagger and deliberately destroyed the air.

The test flight and explosion left a crater in the ground, hurled concrete debris into nearby tanks and other equipment, and affected sensitive habitats that are home to some endangered wildlife. It also sparked an approximately 4-acre fire on state park property.

After the first Starship test flight, environmental and heritage nonprofits sued the FAA, saying the agency failed to conduct an adequate environmental assessment before approving SpaceX to move forward with its launch plans in Boca Chica. SpaceX joined the FAA as a defendant in this matter.

The Starship program is critical to the future of the Company’s Starlink satellite Internet business. SpaceX’s Starlink is a global network of more than 4,000 satellites and provides internet service to more than 50 countries.

While the service has enabled battlefield communications in Ukraine, Musk has also used Starlink to influence strategy and battlefield outcomes there. According to a new CEO biography, he ordered engineers to hold back Starlink’s satellite network service over Crimea to thwart a Ukrainian attack on Russian warships.

https://www.cnbc.com/2023/09/08/faa-starship-grounded-corrective-action.html FAA orders SpaceX to ground Starship and take corrective action


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