FAA Concludes SpaceX Starship Mishap Investigation

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has wrapped up its mishap investigation into SpaceX’s second Starship flight, paving the way for potential future launches. This announcement comes after an in-depth review of the November 18, 2023, test flight, which ended with the intentional destruction of the rocket due to a malfunction.

SpaceX led the mishap investigation under the FAA’s supervision, resulting in the company identifying 17 corrective actions, which are crucial for addressing the issues that led to the premature termination of the flight. In its report, the FAA has emphasized that SpaceX must implement all identified corrective actions and secure a license before proceeding with another launch.

“The FAA is evaluating SpaceX’s license modification request and expects SpaceX to submit additional required information before a final determination can be made,” the FAA said in a statement.

SpaceX’s proactive response to the incident includes implementing changes to the upcoming Starship vehicles to prevent similar issues. The company has made significant strides since its first test flight, with that mishap investigation identifying 63 corrective actions that SpaceX completed before the third flight, which in comparison resulted in just 17 correction actions, indicating a marked improvement in SpaceX addressing potential flaws.

The second Starship flight, which took off from SpaceX’s Boca Chica launchpad in Brownsville, Texas, showcased the rocket’s impressive capabilities despite the unfortunate outcome. The Super Heavy booster, equipped with 33 engines, performed as expected until a critical failure led to the vehicle’s intentional destruction.

The upper stage of the Starship managed to fly for several minutes post-separation before a leak and subsequent combustion event forced the activation of the flight termination system.

Elon Musk has expressed optimism about the readiness for the third Starship test flight, potentially as soon as mid-March, pending FAA approval. The company is aiming for as many as 9 or more Starship flights this year.

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