like dust The issue was resolved after SpaceX launched Starship’s short-term explosive test in April, but the company and the Federal Aviation Administration worked hard to investigate the aftermath. The giant rocket’s flight lasted just four minutes before exploding near SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch site on the Texas coast.image and news report Posted a few days after indicated concrete rocks And during the launch, rebar was blown into the air. Description of particulates It’s raining in nearby Port Isabel.
Today, both SpaceX and the FAA released statements regarding a joint accident investigation led by SpaceX and overseen by the FAA, with NASA and the National Transportation Safety Board serving as observers. The results had to be evaluated and approved by FAA officials, but neither the FAA nor SpaceX have released a complete report, including their own data or U.S. export control information.
Despite SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s claims about X (Old Twitter) The FAA’s Sept. 5 statement that “Starship is ready for launch” makes it clear that SpaceX still has work to do. “The conclusion of the accident investigation does not indicate an immediate resumption of Starship launches at Boca Chica. SpaceX must implement all  “We will take corrective actions that impact public safety and will apply to and receive from the FAA a license modification that addresses all safety, environmental, and other applicable regulatory requirements prior to the next Starship launch.” The statement reads:
The FAA also today released an “accident closure letter” sent to SpaceX officials further detailing the agency’s safety and environmental concerns. “During launch, a structural failure of the launch pad’s deck foundation occurred, sending debris and sand into the air,” the letter said. During the ascent, the autonomous flight safety system issued a command for destruction as the rocket de-orbited, but there was an “unexpected delay” before it actually exploded, the letter continues.
The letter to SpaceX also outlines things the FAA expects to address before granting the company a new launch license. These measures include “redesigning vehicle hardware to prevent leaks and fires, redesigning launch pads to increase robustness, incorporating additional reviews into the design process, and improving safety, including autonomous flight safety systems. Includes additional analysis and testing of critical systems and components. AFSS), and the application of additional change management practices. “
Statement regarding SpaceX website It briefly describes the updates the company has made to its rockets and launch pads since April. These include a hot stage separation system that uses the second stage engine to “push the ship away from the booster” and a new thrust vector control system with electric motors rather than hydraulic systems. says the company. “There are fewer potential points of failure.”
The statement also said the company had strengthened the foundations of the launch pad.Also Mr. Musk tweeted This morning: “Thousands of upgrades to starships and launch pads/mechazilas,” referring to launch towers.
The April launch wasn’t the first time SpaceX has tested and crashed a version of Starship, but previous launches had launched early prototypes that included only an upper stage rocket. In April, engineers tested a fully stacked rocket with the aim of sending it on its first near-orbital flight. After stage separation, the unmanned upper stage was scheduled to fly nearly around the globe and splash down in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii 90 minutes later.
On launch day, Starship exited the pad safely, but trouble became apparent minutes later. During the ascent, propellant leaked from the end of the super heavy booster, causing a fire and cutting the connection to the main flight computer, SpaceX said in a statement. The company concluded that this was why the upper stage and booster could not be separated. The engineer then lost control of the vehicle and the stack it was connected to began to rotate and overturn, eventually exploding.
Another problem was the launch pad crater, caused by what Musk said: twitter space As a “rock tornado” caused by the launch. This launch pad notably lacked a flame deflector, or water flooding system, built into most launch pads. This is intended to diffuse the sound, flame, and energy produced by the firing. In SpaceX’s statement today, the company said it made the upgrades “to prevent a recurrence of the pad foundation failure,” which includes: Addition of flame deflectorSpaceX has successfully tested it many times. “
(SpaceX did not respond to WIRED’s request for comment.)
Starship has a lot going for it. At 390 feet tall, it is larger than SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy and NASA’s Space Launch System. With 33 Raptor engines and millions of pounds of thrust, it could be the most powerful rocket in the world. Musk envisions using Starship for Mars voyages, and NASA will return astronauts to lunar soil for the first time since 1972, starting with the historic Artemis 3 flight planned for 2025. The plan is to use Starship for the Artemis moon mission as well. NASA also awarded SpaceX a contract for the Artemis 4 landing scheduled for 2028. Those plans will face setbacks unless SpaceX can quickly get its launch site and massive new rocket up and running. Weeks after Starship’s explosion, NASA announced that Space A contract was signed for the lunar lander for Mission 5.