FAA Will Oversee Investigation Into SpaceX Rocket Explosion
An investigation into the explosion of a SpaceX rocket Tuesday will be led by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after they delayed the launch last week to look into an explosion of a similar rocket prototype last year, according to CNN.
The test of SpaceX’s Starship SN9 was launched Tuesday at the companies launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas, as part of a high altitude test aimed at creating a rocket capable of reaching the Moon and eventually putting humans on Mars. The rocket reached an altitude of about 6 miles (10 kilometers), hovered midair for a while, and then proceeded to descend before it burst into flames upon landing, CNN reported. (RELATED: SpaceX’s Starship SN9 Explodes During Landing)
“The FAA’s top priority in regulating commercial space transportation is ensuring that operations are safe, even if there is an anomaly,” an FAA spokesperson said in a statement, according to CNN. “The FAA will oversee the investigation of today’s landing mishap involving the SpaceX Starship SN9 prototype in Boca Chica, Texas. Although this was an uncrewed test flight, the investigation will identify the root cause of today’s mishap and possible opportunities to further enhance safety as the program develops.”
Federal Aviation Administration documents say that when a mishap happens during the testing of a rocket, the FAA “may elect to conduct the investigation or authorize the launch operator to conduct the investigation,” according to CNN.
SpaceX engineer John Insprucker said that the test “looked to be very good,” giving them important data on how to best improve the rocket’s design, according to the International Business Times. “We demonstrated the ability to transition the engines to the landing propellant tanks, the subsonic reentry looked very good and stable,” said Insprucker. “We’ve just got to work on that landing a little bit.”
Starship SN9 & SN10 pic.twitter.com/urtPJn7amo
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 29, 2021
The rocket had previously been stranded following the FAA’s decision to halt all SpaceX operations “that could affect public safety,” the FAA said, but the agency restored SpaceX’s authorization to test its rocket on Monday, according to CNN. (RELATED: Elon Musk Passes Jeff Bezos To Become Richest Man In The World)
Elon Musk, who tweeted Tuesday that he would be off Twitter for a while, has not yet commented on the incident.