FAA Is Reportedly Investigating SpaceX Over Starship Tests
The prototype of the SN8 spaceship explodes when it lands hard after a test flight at high altitude in December 2020. SpaceX
SpaceX’s altitude test with its Starship prototype SN8 in December 2020 ended with an explosive fireball, although the company’s CEO Elon Musk appeared satisfied with the data collected during the test. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which oversees missile launch regulations, is concerned about the explosion and other issues. SpaceX is reportedly now the subject of an FAA investigation.
As The Verge reports, the December explosion isn’t the FAA’s only problem. The agency is also reportedly concerned about SpaceX trial license violations and has opened an investigation into the company. The exact details of what SpaceX allegedly violated its license have not yet been released.
“The FAA will continue to work with SpaceX to evaluate additional information the company has provided as part of its application to change its launch license,” said FAA spokesman Steve Kulm, as reported by The Verge. “While we recognize the importance of acting quickly to fuel growth and innovation in the commercial space, the FAA will not jeopardize its responsibility to protect public safety. We will not approve the change until we are satisfied that SpaceX has taken the necessary steps to comply with legal requirements. “
Problems with the FAA put a brake on plans for another altitude test of the newer SN9 prototype, which was expected this week. The test had to be postponed after the FAA lifted temporary flight restrictions in the airspace around the test site.
In this regard, CEO Elon Musk criticized the FAA on Twitter, saying that the space division has “a fundamentally broken regulatory structure” and that its rules do not reflect the modern situation where multiple consumer goods are regularly introduced.
Unlike their aircraft division, which is fine, the FAA space division has a fundamentally broken regulatory structure.
Their rules are for a handful of consumable starts per year from some government agencies. According to these rules, humanity will never get to Mars.
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 28, 2021
Two prototypes are now available for testing in SpaceX – both the SN9 and the SN10. Both prototypes were seen side by side on the SpaceX pad in Boca Chica. Space.com speculates that the next test flight could take place next week starting Monday, February 1st, as long as the FAA clears clearances on time.