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SpaceX needs to make 63 repairs before launching its next spacecraft, according to FAA orders.


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The next giant Starship rocket from Elon Musk’s SpaceX stands on a launch pad in south Texas. But the Federal Aviation Administration said Friday that the company must take “corrective actions” before issuing a launch license for the second flight.

The first test flight of Starship was successfully launched on April 20. After a few minutes, it began to spiral out of control and then ended with an explosion caused by its flight termination system, which is designed to prevent out-of-control missiles from crashing. To a populated area. The rocket reached an altitude of 24 miles above the Gulf of Mexico, well short of reaching orbit, though SpaceX employees popped champagne in celebration of what the flight had managed to accomplish.

in posted on its website on FridaySpaceX described the problems.

“During ascent, the vehicle experienced fires due to a fuel leak at the back of the Super Heavy booster, which ultimately severed communication with the vehicle’s primary flight computer,” SpaceX’s update said. “This resulted in a loss of communications with the majority of the booster motors and, ultimately, control of the vehicle.”

The launch also caused extensive damage to the launch pad, blowing away chunks of concrete in the surrounding areas and sending up clouds of dust that reached a small town six miles from the launch site.

The FAA said the 63 corrective actions outlined in the final investigation report included redesigning the rocket to prevent leaks and fires and conducting additional analysis and testing of safety systems including the flight termination system.

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He also called for improvements to the operating panel. SpaceX spent several months adding a large steel plate and water dousing system to minimize damage from liftoff.

The FAA said the investigation report will not be released publicly because it includes information proprietary to SpaceX and also data restricted by U.S. export controls.

None of the 63 corrective actions will come as a surprise to SpaceX because the company conducted the investigation and determined the causes of malfunctions that occurred during the April launch and what needed to be fixed. The FAA reviewed SpaceX’s report, agreed with the company’s findings, and closed the investigation.

A SpaceX video captured the launch of the massive rocket and the moment the rocket began to spin out of control before exploding.

Other footage showed the size of the cloud of dirt and debris resulting from the launch.

Sitting atop the SuperHeavy booster pad, Starship is the largest rocket ever built, and is a key part of Mr Musk’s vision of establishing a colony on Mars. The rocket is designed to be completely reusable. The booster is scheduled to fall, after providing thrust during the first few minutes of the flight, and land on the launch pad. The spacecraft’s upper section then continues to rotate. It can also return to Earth, tumbling through the atmosphere before rotating in a vertical direction to land.

As part of the Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon, NASA has hired SpaceX to build a version of Starship to transport astronauts from lunar orbit to the lunar surface. The first landing on the moon, during the Artemis 3 mission, is currently scheduled for late December 2025. But that timeline will almost certainly be delayed. SpaceX must first perform an unmanned test landing.

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On Tuesday, Musk posted on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter that he owns, that “Starship is ready for launch, pending FAA approval.”

The FAA said the closure of the investigation into the launch in April does not mean the next launch is imminent.

“SpaceX must implement all corrective actions that impact public safety and apply for and obtain an FAA authorization modification that addresses all applicable safety, environmental and other regulatory requirements prior to the next Starship launch,” the agency said.

Environmental groups have He filed a lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration Call for a more comprehensive review of the impacts of spacecraft launches. The case is still in its preliminary stages.

SpaceX has not set a target date for the second launch.

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