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.
For the second time in less than 18 months, SpaceX has abandoned plans to build a manufacturing facility at the Port of Los Angeles for its next-generation Starship launch vehicle.
A SpaceX Starship prototype was destroyed in an explosion May 29 shortly after what initially appeared to be a successful static-fire test.
SpaceX has received a license from the Federal Aviation Administration allowing the company to carry out suborbital flight tests of its Starship next-generation launch vehicle.
For the third time in less than five months, a prototype of SpaceX’s Starship next-generation launch vehicle was destroyed in a test at the company’s South Texas facilities April 3, although this failure may an issue with the test itself.