Friday, September 8, 2023

FAA Completes Review of SpaceX Investigation

As our friends over at Gun Free Zone like to say, BLUF - for Bottom Line Up Front.

The FAA completed their review of the report SpaceX submitted and closed the investigation.  That does NOT mean they are cleared now or will be cleared to fly any time soon. 

That said, completing the investigation is certainly a big step to the second launch.  

"The closure of the mishap investigation does not signal an immediate resumption of Starship launches at Boca Chica," they said in today's statement. "SpaceX must implement all corrective actions that impact public safety and apply for and receive a license modification from the FAA that addresses all safety, environmental and other applicable regulatory requirements prior to the next Starship launch."
"Corrective actions include redesigns of vehicle hardware to prevent leaks and fires, redesign of the launch pad to increase its robustness, incorporation of additional reviews in the design process, additional analysis and testing of safety critical systems and components including the Autonomous Flight Safety System, and the application of additional change control practices," FAA officials wrote in today's statement.

The language completely ignores an important point here.  The report being investigated by the FAA was written by SpaceX.  That means that at a minimum they know a very high proportion of what the Feds say need to be changed, and they quite possibly know all of the things the FAA would say need to be addressed.  And a few years of observing how SpaceX works says if they know something needs to be fixed, they're not going to wait around for someone to tell them that.  They're just going to go fix it.  SpaceX issued a statement on X today essentially saying that. 

The site linked to in this post from X is this SpaceX site, the entry dated September 8, 2023.

Elon Musk has previously said the company has made "thousands of upgrades" to Starship, the launch pad and Starbase's huge launch tower.  Someone now has the task of going through what the FAA wants and seeing if it has been done.  Probably an engineering group; if not for the whole task, than to clear up some number of things the FAA said to do that won't be exactly the way SpaceX documentation is worded.

SpaceX image of the "rocket garden" at Boca Chica.  Just because it's a neat picture.  Four Starships and three Super Heavies.  



  1. It will be interesting to see how many things SpaceX has already done, and how quickly the remaining things are done, and how quickly the FAA approves the new changes and requests new changes.

    The more I think of it, the more I believe the concrete tornado was just SpaceX's way of getting rid of a major problem in the way that SpaceX loves doing things, quickly, efficiently and spectacularly. Especially considering how quickly the new rebar, pilings, concrete and everything else was brought in and put in place. Which is definitely against the normal NASA/FAA/Government Entity way of doing things - Study the problem for 5 years then bid for changes for

  2. 5 years then rebid it for 5 years and then don't do anything because the whole system has been scrapped, 5 years ago.

    1. Geeze Louise, Beans, you'd think the FedGov is part of the problem!
      Shame on you.

    2. Not me! Oh, Uncle Sugar is the besties and I have nothing negative to say about US Fedbois at all!

  3. Now let's see what the watermelons do!

  4. Elon Musk has published the top level punch list from the FAA, Congrats to SpaceX for completing & documented the 57 items required by the FAA for Flight 2 of Starship!. Great news! Six of the items are for future flights.