FAA Ends Investigations Into Recent SpaceX Starship Crashes-news

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Starship High-Altitude Flight Test (Photo via SpaceX)

The Federal Aviation Administration has concluded investigations into two recent SpaceX Starship tests, potentially paving the way for a new flight as early as this week.

In early December, Elon Musk’s aerospace manufacturer conducted the first high-altitude test flight of its Starship rocket, which launched successfully (save for the crash landing), but violated the terms of SpaceX’s FAA test license, prompting a formal inquiry.

A “mishap investigation” focused on the botched touchdown, as well as SpaceX’s apparent refusal to stick to the FAA’s authorized conditions (which denied a request to waive public safety limits associated with the flight), The Verge reported. A subsequent SN9 Starship test attempt was therefore delayed.

“Unlike its aircraft division, which is fine, the FAA space division has a fundamentally broken regulatory structure,” Musk tweeted at the time. “Their rules are meant for a handful of expendable launches per year from a few government facilities. Under those rules, humanity will never get to Mars.”

On Feb. 2, SpaceX sent its SN9 prototype soaring miles above the company’s Texas facilities, completing another successful flight demonstration—which, once again, ended in a fiery explosion of prototype pieces. The Federal Aviation Administration wasted no time looking into the source of the Starship’s failure, announcing that “although this was an uncrewed test flight, the investigation will identify the root of today’s mishap and possible opportunities to further enhance safety as the program develops.”

The FAA on Friday closed its investigation, “clearing the way for the SN10 test flight,” pending approval of license updates, CNN’s Jackie Wattles reported last week. “The SN9 vehicle failed within the bounds of the FAA safety analysis,” she tweeted, citing a company statement. “Its unsuccessful landing and explosion did not endanger the public or property.”

Starship SN10 was moved to the Boca Chica, Texas, launch site in late January, and, according to Musk, has a “good chance of flying this week.” Local road closures have been scheduled for today, in preparation of “non-flight activities,” suggesting a static fire test.


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