13 June 2024
SpaceX Starship investigation closed

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SpaceX Starship Investigation Closed: What Happened and What’s Next

SpaceX, the pioneering aerospace company founded by Elon Musk, recently faced an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) into the second flight of its massive Starship and Super Heavy rocket from its Texas launch site. The investigation was prompted by the double explosions of both the booster and upper stages during the flight in November. However, the FAA has now closed the investigation and provided insights into the mishap and the corrective actions that need to be addressed before future launch licenses are approved.

Understanding SpaceX’s Starship Mishap

The second flight of SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy rocket showcased significant improvements despite the explosive incidents mid-flight. Notably, the Super Heavy booster’s 33 Raptor engines performed admirably, generating near 17 million pounds of thrust, nearly twice that of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. The flight also demonstrated successful stage separation using a hot-fire staging system, allowing the upper Starship stage to maintain upward thrust while still connected to the Super Heavy booster.

However, the mishap occurred during the stage separation phase when the Super Heavy booster experienced an engine failure leading to a rapid unscheduled disassembly. The most likely root cause was identified as a filter blockage affecting the engine’s oxidizer turbopumps, resulting in the loss of the vehicle. Additionally, the upper stage Starship faced its own challenges, including a combustion event and fires due to a leak in the aft section of the spacecraft.

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Published on: February 26, 2024 Description: The FAA has completed the SpaceX Starship mishap investigation! So what happens now? #space #spacex #nasa What are ...
BREAKING NEWS! FAA completes SpaceX Starship Mishap Investigation! Next launch is days away!

Actions Taken and Future Plans

SpaceX has implemented several changes following the investigation to enhance the safety and reliability of future flights. These include hardware modifications in the booster oxidizer tanks to improve propellant filtering and reduce slosh, as well as improvements in leak reduction, fire protection, and refined operations for the upper stage Starship. The company has also transitioned from a hydraulic steering system to an electric system for the Raptor engines, aiming to eliminate potential sources of flammability.

The FAA has outlined 17 corrective actions, with seven related to the Super Heavy booster and ten concerning the upper stage Starship. SpaceX’s ultimate goal is to achieve vertical safe landings for both components, aligning with the reusable design of the spacecraft. The upcoming test flights will continue to refine the Starship system in preparation for various missions, including human spaceflights and potential Mars settlements.

Implications and Future Prospects

SpaceX’s Starship project holds significant promise for the future of space exploration, with plans for hundreds and eventually thousands of launches per year. The company’s ambitious goals include deploying larger constellations of satellites, conducting human missions, and enabling the colonization of Mars. Notably, NASA has a vested interest in Starship’s success, as it is slated to play a crucial role in the Artemis III mission, aiming to return humans to the lunar surface.

While the recent mishaps underscore the challenges of developing cutting-edge space technology, SpaceX’s commitment to iterative improvement and safety enhancements demonstrates its dedication to pushing the boundaries of aerospace innovation. As the company continues to refine its Starship system and pursue its vision of interplanetary travel, the future of space exploration remains both exciting and full of possibilities.

Links to additional Resources:

1. https://www.faa.gov 2. https://www.spacex.com 3. https://www.nasa.gov

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: SpaceX, Starship (spacecraft), Federal Aviation Administration

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, commonly referred to as SpaceX, is an American spacecraft manufacturer, launch service provider and satellite communications company headquartered in Hawthorne, California. The company was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs and ultimately developing a sustainable colony on Mars....
Read more: SpaceX

SpaceX Starship
Starship is a two-stage super heavy-lift launch vehicle under development by SpaceX. As of April 2024, it is the largest and most powerful rocket ever flown. Starship's primary objective is to lower launch costs significantly via economies of scale. This is achieved by reusing both rocket stages, increasing payload mass...
Read more: SpaceX Starship

Federal Aviation Administration
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is a U.S. federal government agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation which regulates civil aviation in the United States and surrounding international waters.: 12, 16  Its powers include air traffic control, certification of personnel and aircraft, setting standards for airports, and protection of U.S. assets during...
Read more: Federal Aviation Administration

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