SpaceX takes another step towards second Starship flight with submission of mishap report to FAA

SpaceX has taken a another step towards its second orbital test flight of Starship, filing a final mishap investigation report to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The report covers the first integrated flight test that took place in April, and is part of the regulatory process necessary for a second launch.

The mishap investigation report will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of Starship’s journey, as it identifies corrective actions that SpaceX must undertake. Notably, this report comes after months of work on modifying both the launch vehicle and the launch pad to hopefully meet the FAAs standards in order to receive its next launch license.

Among these modifications is the installation of a water deluge system designed to mitigate the energy generated by the Raptor engines during liftoff. This water deluge system addresses a significant challenge that arose during Starship’s previous test flight—the scattering of debris over wide areas, which was a cause for concern. In a recent successful demonstration, the system transformed the fiery plume into steam, showcasing its potential to reduce environmental impact and noise pollution.

Equally critical was the enhancement of Starship’s flight termination system (FTS). The upgraded FTS aims to ensure timely and precise termination of Starship if needed, bolstering safety measures during the flight. While SpaceX conducted tests on a booster at the Massey test facility, specific details about the upgraded FTS remain undisclosed.

Despite these advancements, SpaceX’s journey towards the second orbital test flight isn’t without its challenges. The FAA’s review process for the mishap investigation report is ongoing, with no defined timeline for completion. The regulatory agency’s approval is needed before SpaceX can proceed with the next launch.

Elon Musk’s initial projection of a six to eight-week timeframe for the second orbital launch test, announced in mid-June, has since evolved. As of now, Musk has not provided further updates on the anticipated launch schedule.

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