As SpaceX gears up for another test flight of a Starship prototype, the Federal Aviation Administration is facing new scrutiny from Congress for how it handled SpaceX’s violation of its launch license on an earlier test flight.
Private spaceflight companies can help to lead the way in advancing U.S. national security and exploration goals, provided they don’t get their heads stuck above the clouds and undermine the gains they’ve brought to the industry.
SpaceX launched a prototype of its Starship next-generation vehicle March 3, landing it safely only to have the vehicle explode minutes later.
Steve Blank’s op-ed of Feb. 5, “The FAA and SpaceX,” demands an informed rebuttal. It lacks grounding in the history and nature of private space activity regulation and he erroneously conflates that mission with the FAA's primary task of regulating the safest transportation system in human history.
At first glance the FAA/SpaceX dust-up over Starship might look like a rich entrepreneur breaking the rules versus a federal agency trying to keep the public safe. It's actually an example of a government organization — the FAA — unable to distinguish between innovation and execution.
The FAA said that SpaceX violated the conditions of a launch license for its Starship vehicle during a launch in December, prompting an investigation that delayed tests of another vehicle.
There was no clearer set of contrasts between how SpaceX and NASA approach launch vehicle development than the dueling tests the two performed in early December of Starship and Space Launch System, respectively.
SpaceX performed the first high-altitude test flight of a prototype of its Starship launch vehicle Dec. 9, with the vehicle successfully lifting off the pad but exploding when attempting a landing several minutes later.
As SpaceX prepares for the first high-altitude test flight of its Starship reusable launch vehicle, the FAA is starting a new environmental review required for the company’s future launch vehicle plans.
SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk said the company is making “good progress” on its next-generation Starship launch vehicle despite delays in the schedule of test flights of the vehicle.