US FAA ends investigation of SpaceX Starship's 2nd test flight mishap

San Francisco, Feb 27 (IANS): The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it has closed the investigation of SpaceX's Starship Super Heavy Orbital Test Flight 2 (OTF-2) launch mishap that occurred in November last year.

The regulator in a statement on Monday said that it "accepts the root causes and 17 corrective actions" identified by SpaceX.

However, “the closure of the investigation does not signal an immediate authorisation of the next Starship launch,” the regulator said.

SpaceX’s second orbital flight test launched to space on November 18, 2023. All 33 of the Raptor engines on the Super Heavy booster powered on successfully. But mid-air both of Starship's stages exploded, around 3.5 minutes and eight minutes after liftoff, respectively.

“Seven corrective actions were identified for the Super Heavy Booster including vehicle hardware redesigns, updated control system modelling, reevaluation of engine analyses based on OTF-2 flight data, and updated engine control algorithms. Ten corrective actions were identified for the Starship vehicle including vehicle hardware redesigns, operational changes, flammability analysis updates, installation of additional fire protection, and guidance and modelling updates,” said the FAA, quoting SpaceX’s mishap report.

The 400-foot-tall Starship rocket’s first flight took place in April 2023. Two stages of the rocket did not separate as planned, and SpaceX detonated the craft about four minutes after liftoff. After the first test, the FAA directed SpaceX to complete 63 corrective actions.

Even as SpaceX has been prepping for Starship flight 3, the FAA has asked the Elon-Musk led company to implement all corrective actions and receive a licence modification from the FAA prior to the next launch.

The licence will address all safety, environmental and other applicable regulatory requirements, the agency said.

“The FAA is evaluating SpaceX’s licence modification request and expects SpaceX to submit additional required information before a final determination can be made,” it added.



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Title: US FAA ends investigation of SpaceX Starship's 2nd test flight mishap

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