FAA Probing SpaceX’s Starship Prototype Test That Exploded In December 2020


The Federal Aviation Administration has launched a probe into SpaceX’s Starship explosion. The FAA will probe the first high-altitude test flight of Starship. The prototype was called serial number 8. The test was conducted in December 2020 from the Cameroon County launch pad in Texas. The prototype, however, exploded while landing at the designated site. The FAA said that the private aerospace company flouted the terms of its Federal Aviation Administration test license. SpaceX is owned by space enthusiast and billionaire Elon Musk. Starship is the next-generation heavy-lift rocket. It is developed by SpaceX. The development of the engine started in 2012. The spacecraft’s development started in 2016. Starship is a self-funded project.

According to the company’s claim, the launch and ascent of SN8 were successful. When the vehicle’s engines appeared to relight for landing, it flipped back to vertical. It then slammed into the ground. SpaceX said that the low pressure in the fuel header tank increased its velocity and caused the explosion. The FAA said that it will evaluate additional information provided by SpaceX in its application seeking to modify the launch license. The request for modification will be approved only if the FAA is satisfied fully. The FAA will have to satisfy itself that SpaceX has taken all the necessary measures to meet the regulatory requirements.

The Starship is a spacecraft. It is still under development. SpaceX claims that Starship is a fully reusable system. It is a super heavy-lift launch vehicle. According to SpaceX, it can carry both crew and cargo to the Earth’s orbit. SpaceX claims that the vehicle is capable of also launching crew and cargo to Moon, Mars, and beyond. The company is planning to launch an uncrewed flight to March on Starship in the next two years. Notably, the Starship serial number 9 also exploded on landing. It marked the completion of the prototype’s second high-altitude flight test. According to SpaceX, SN9 started descending as planned, but one of its Raptor engines did not reignite and slammed the site, causing an explosion.

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