The Us Could Advance Spacex License as Soon as October After the Rocket Exploded in April


The acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Polly Trottenberg, announced on Wednesday that the agency is considering granting a launch license for the SpaceX Starship rocket as early as next month. This comes after a previous Starship rocket exploded during a test launch in April.

Optimistic Outlook for October Launch

Acting FAA Administrator Polly Trottenberg expressed optimism about the ongoing discussions with SpaceX. She stated that the teams from both the FAA and SpaceX are collaborating effectively, and they are hopeful to secure the launch license sometime next month. While the FAA’s progress is promising, SpaceX will still need separate environmental approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the launch. The timeline for obtaining this approval was not specified by Trottenberg.

FAA’s Investigation Conclusions

The FAA recently concluded a technical investigation into SpaceX’s April test launch of the Starship rocket. The investigation revealed multiple root causes for the failure and outlined 63 corrective measures that SpaceX must implement before launching the rocket again. These measures include hardware changes to prevent leaks and fires, as well as reinforcing the rocket’s launchpad to mitigate debris and sand issues. Despite the investigation’s closure, the FAA clarified that this does not signal an immediate resumption of Starship launches at SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch site in Texas.

Key Milestone for SpaceX

Obtaining the launch license would be a significant milestone, bringing the Starship closer to its first spaceflight. This achievement is essential for the company’s plans to use the reusable rocket for commercial satellite missions and NASA’s lunar landings. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk sought clarification from the FAA regarding the 63 corrective actions required, indicating his commitment to addressing the necessary changes.

In accordance with FAA regulations, SpaceX led the investigation and formulated the list of corrective actions for FAA approval. SpaceX must complete these actions before obtaining a new Starship launch license. Additionally, the FAA’s review process includes evaluating factors such as the rocket’s flight trajectory and safety considerations for nearby areas before granting a modified launch license.

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