SpaceX’s Starship grounded pending improvements after launch explosion.
In April, SpaceX’s Starship vehicle lifted off the pad for the first time in its inaugural test flight but came to a dramatic end when it exploded in the air shortly after liftoff. SpaceX has been preparing to fly the Starship again, but another test flight won’t happen just yet as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has grounded the rocket following a recent investigation.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it closed its investigation into SpaceX’s failed debut of Starship. The agency is requiring SpaceX to take 63 corrective steps and to apply for a modified FAA license before launching again.
FAA official said multiple problems led to the April launch explosion, which sent pieces of concrete and metal hurtling for thousands of feet and created a plume of pulverized concrete that spread for miles around.
The original test flight was contentious, being hailed both as a great success due to the rocket making it into the air, and also called a failure due to the rocket’s explosion. SpaceX has proven itself willing to take risks and to test its prototypes early, which has frequently led to dramatic explosions but has arguably helped the company to push its development at a higher pace.
The SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, said in the accident’s aftermath that he improved the 394ft (120-meter) rocket, which is nearly as long as three passenger jets, and strengthened the launch pad. A new Starship is on the redesigned pad, awaiting liftoff. It will fly empty, as before.
During the initial test flight, the rocketship had to be destroyed after it tumbled out of control just a few minutes after liftoff from Boca Chica Beach in Texas. The wreckage crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. SpaceX said fuel leaks during ascent caused fires to erupt at the tail of the rocket, severing connection with the main flight computer and leading to a loss of control.