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The Investigation of SpaceX’s Starship Explosion Is Complete—and Elon Musk Has More Work to Do


Because the mud settled following SpaceX’s transient, explosive check launch of Starship in April, each the corporate and the Federal Aviation Administration dug into investigating the aftermath. The big rocket’s flight lasted simply 4 minutes earlier than it blew up close to SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch website on the Texas coast. Photographs and news reports posted within the days afterward confirmed boulders of concrete and rebar blasting into the air throughout liftoff, and there have been accounts of particulates raining down on close by Port Isabel.

At present, each SpaceX and the FAA launched statements on their joint “mishap investigation,” which was led by the corporate and overseen by the FAA, with NASA and the Nationwide Transportation Security Board performing as observers. The outcomes needed to be evaluated and accepted by FAA officers, however neither the company nor SpaceX has launched a full report, which would come with proprietary information and US Export Management data. 

Regardless of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s claim on X (previously Twitter) on September 5 that “Starship is able to launch,” the FAA’s assertion makes clear that SpaceX has extra work to do. “The closure of the mishap investigation doesn’t sign a direct resumption of Starship launches at Boca Chica. SpaceX should implement all [63] corrective actions that impression public security and apply for and obtain a license modification from the FAA that addresses all security, environmental and different relevant regulatory necessities previous to the following Starship launch,” the assertion reads.

The FAA additionally launched a “mishap closure letter” despatched to SpaceX officers in the present day, which additional outlines the company’s security and environmental issues. “Throughout lift-off, structural failure of the launch pad deck basis occurred, sending particles and sand into the air,” the letter states. On ascent, when the rocket deviated from its trajectory, the Autonomous Flight Security System issued a destruct command, however there was an “surprising delay” earlier than it truly blew up, the letter continues.

The letter to SpaceX additionally summarizes what the FAA expects the corporate to deal with earlier than it may be granted a brand new launch license. These actions embody “redesigns of car {hardware} to stop leaks and fires, redesign of the launch pad to extend its robustness, incorporation of further opinions within the design course of, further evaluation and testing of security vital techniques and elements together with the Autonomous Flight Security System (AFSS), and the applying of further change management practices.”

An announcement on the SpaceX website briefly describes updates the corporate has been making to the rocket and launchpad since April. These embody a hot-stage separation system, meant to make use of the second stage engines to “push the ship away from the booster,” in addition to a brand new thrust vector management system with electrical motors, reasonably than hydraulic techniques, which the corporate says “has fewer potential factors of failure.”

Their assertion additionally mentioned the corporate had strengthened the launch pad’s basis. Equally, Musk tweeted this morning: “1000’s of upgrades to Starship & launchpad/Mechazilla,” referring to the launch tower.


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