FAA Grounds SpaceX Starship, Requires 63 Corrective Steps for Safety


The Federal Aviation Administration ruled on Friday that SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, must keep the Starship Super Heavy rocket on the ground until it has completed 63 corrective steps.

The rocket exploded mid-flight during the launch in April, and the FAA has officially finished its investigation. The CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, stated on Tuesday that “Starship is ready to launch, pending FAA license approval” in a post on X (previously Twitter), which he now controls.

The corrective measures include redesigning the vehicle’s hardware to prevent leaks and fires, strengthening the launch pad, adding more reviews to the design process, analyzing and testing additional safety-critical systems and components, such as the Autonomous Flight Safety System, and implementing more change control procedures.

The FAA has determined that SpaceX must take all corrective actions that have an impact on public safety before it can resume Starship launches at its facility in Boca Chica, Texas. The company must also apply for and be granted an FAA license modification that addresses all of its safety and other environmental regulatory requirements.

 A request for comment from SpaceX did not receive a prompt response.

The SpaceX accident inquiry was overseen by the FAA, with NASA and the National Transportation Safety Board acting as authorized observers. The full report of the accident investigation won’t be made public because it contains sensitive information, including specifics on US export rules.

Read Also: Elon Musk’s SpaceX Loan: $1 Billion Sought While Twitter Deal Takes Shape

A Costly Test Flight and Environmental Impact

The Federal Aviation Administration ruled on Friday that SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, must keep the Starship Super Heavy rocket on the ground until it has completed 63 corrective steps.

The approximately 400-foot-tall rocket used for the first Starship launch flew for more than three minutes, but it lost many engines, seriously damaged the ground’s infrastructure, and failed to reach space after starting to tumble and was deliberately destroyed in the air.

The test flight and explosion created a crater in the earth, damaged the delicate ecosystem that supports several endangered wildlife species, and drove concrete debris into nearby tanks and other equipment. Also, it ignited a fire on state park property that engulfed around 4 acres.

Environmental and cultural heritage organizations sued the FAA after the first Starship test flight, alleging that the agency had failed to provide adequate environmental monitoring when approving SpaceX’s plans to launch from Boca Chica. SpaceX joined the FAA as a defendant in that litigation.

The success of the company’s Starlink satellite broadband service depends on the Starship program. More than 50 nations can access the internet through SpaceX’s Starlink, a global network of more than 4,000 satellites.

While the service has made it possible for soldiers to communicate on the battlefield in Ukraine, Musk has also used Starlink to affect the tactics and results of those battles.

According to a recent biography of the CEO, he gave engineers the order to halt Starlink’s satellite network operations over Crimea in order to stop Ukraine from attacking Russian vessels.

Read Also: Elon Musk’s Decision to Withhold Starlink Over Crimea: A Bid to Prevent Escalation

Source: CNBC

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