FAA is Investigating SpaceX Over Launch License Violations During the Explosive Starship Test

The Federal Aviation Administration is launching an investigation into SpaceX’s botched Starship test back in December, which resulted in an explosion upon landing.

More specifically, the FAA says that SpaceX has violated various terms of its test license during that launch, and the investigation will focus on more than just the explosive landing itself, although it refused to specify exactly which parts of the launch was carried out in violation of its regulations when asked by The Verge.

“The FAA will continue to work with SpaceX to evaluate additional information provided by the company as part of its application to modify its launch license,” FAA spokesperson Steve Kulm said. “While we recognize the importance of moving quickly to foster growth and innovation in commercial space, the FAA will not compromise its responsibility to protect public safety. We will approve the modification only after we are satisfied that SpaceX has taken the necessary steps to comply with regulatory requirements.”

Since the December mishap, FAA’s tightened scrutiny of the company has also affected other launches, including the SN9 Starship test that was due for Thursday this week. Despite being completely prepared to launch, the FAA caused a delay as it was still reviewing the launch licenses. Displeased, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to criticize the administration, arguing that its rules and regulations are antiquated. “Unlike its aircraft division, which is fine, the FAA space division has a fundamentally broken regulatory structure,” Musk says. “Their rules are meant for a handful of expendable launches per year from a few government facilities. Under those rules, humanity will never get to Mars.”

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