Elon Musk’s Starship foundered after an explosion during the first launch

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is facing a major setback as US regulators have grounded their Starship launch vehicle after investigating a shooting during its launch in April of this year.

SpaceXLarge clouds of smoke form as the SpaceX Starship lifts off from the company’s Boca Chica launchpad for an orbital test mission near Brownsville, Texas, US April 20, 2023. (REUTERS/Gene Blevins)

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX is facing a major setback as the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered the company to ground Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built, until it takes several corrective measures. The launch of the first vehicle in April ended with a bang.

The FAA announced Friday that it had closed its investigation into the explosion and cited several possible causes of the crash. SpaceX must now take 63 corrective actions to ensure that such an incident does not happen again. After making all the adjustments, the company will need to apply for and receive a license modification in federal regulation before attempting another launch.

These maintenance actions include reconfiguring the vehicle to prevent leaks and fires, reconfiguring the SpaceX launch pad to make it stronger, new additional studies in the design process and additional analysis and testing of critical systems, including Autonomous Flight Safety Systems.

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Elon Musk on Tuesday claimed on X, formerly Twitter, that the Starship is ready for launch, pending FAA approval.

In a statement released Friday, SpaceX called the first flight test an important step in advancing Starship’s capabilities, adding that it “provided many lessons that contribute to the many improvements made to the spacecraft and ground infrastructure to improve the likelihood of successful Starship flights.”

The company says the explosion was caused by a leak of propellants on the Starship that caused a fire, severing communication with the flight’s primary computer. This caused a loss of communication with the booster motors and, ultimately, led to a loss of control of the vehicle. The company led by Musk is currently working on various hardware and software improvements to the vehicle, as well as improvements to its Starbase launch site in Boca Chica, Texas.

Meanwhile, NASA officials appear to have admitted that its Space Launch System (SLS) is “out of reach.” SpaceX’s Starship should play an important role as the American space agency tries to land people near the South Pole of the Moon for the first time with the Artemis 3 mission. But now, that seems to be in the air.

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Originally published by: 09-09-2023 at 12:09 IST

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