The Federal Aviation Administration wrapped up a technical investigation into SpaceX’s April test launch of its giant Starship rocket, saying in a Friday statement that the company must implement dozens of corrective measures before flying the vehicle again.
The April 20 launch of SpaceX’s Starship Super Heavy rocket from Texas pulverized its launchpad upon liftoff and ascended 25 miles before exploding roughly four minutes into its flight, as it was attempting a crucial demonstration to reach space for the first time.
The FAA, which regulates launch site safety, closed its review on Friday of SpaceX’s technical investigation into the launch mishap, citing “multiple root causes” of the failure and 63 corrective actions the company must undertake before it launches the rocket again.
“The closure of the mishap investigation does not signal an immediate resumption of Starship launches at Boca Chica,” the agency said, referring to SpaceX’s sprawling Starship launch site in south Texas.
The FAA probe’s closure puts SpaceX one step closer to getting Starship in space for the first time – a major, long-sought testing milestone before the company can use the resuable rocket for commercial satellite missions and human landings on the moon’s surface for NASA.
It was unclear whether SpaceX had already implemented some of the FAA’s 63 corrective actions, whose completion will largely determine the timing of Starship’s next launch.
The agency’s mishap report was not made public.
SpaceX must also obtain a modified FAA license to launch, which entails a sometimes-lengthy review of the Starship’s flight trajectory, accident probabilities, and other factors that could affect the safety of the nearby public.
“Starship is ready to launch, awaiting FAA license approval,” Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and founder, wrote in a Tuesday post on X, the social media site previously known as Twitter that Musk also owns.
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