The Federal Aviation Administration has completed its investigations into SpaceX’s last two Starship prototype tests, named SN8 and SN9, according to CNN’s Jackie Wattles. News from the federal probes threw SpaceX’s SN10 prototype launch into legal limbo, but on Sunday CEO Elon Musk seemed confident the matter had been resolved. tweeting that there is a “good chance of flying this week”.
Last month, news emerged that SpaceX violated its launch license with its SN8 high-altitude test flight in December, prompting a formal investigation by the FAA. The agency denied SpaceX’s proposed updates to its license and did not give the green light to the launch, but the company went ahead anyway. CNET reported. The rocket was successfully launched but then exploded during a landing attempt. A spokesperson for the FAA now says that the SN8 matter – that is, their investigation into the license breach – apparently they were fine with the entire blast part – has since been resolved, according to a tweet from Wattles this week.
As for the SN9, which also exploded while attempting to land during a high-altitude test earlier this month, the agency found that it “failed within the limits of the FAA’s safety analysis.” It should be noted that the FAA’s SN9 investigation was a routine response to a reentry fault like the one we saw on February 2.
“The FAA today closed the investigation into the SpaceX Starship SN9 prototype mishap on February 2, clearing the way for the SN10 test flight pending approval of license updates by the FAA,” said a spokesman for the agency to Wattles on Friday. “The FAA oversaw the investigation of the SN9 mishap conducted by SpaceX. The SN9 vehicle failed within the limits of the FAA’s safety analysis. Its failed landing and explosion did not endanger the public or property. “
WOnce these investigations are resolved, SpaceX should be clear about the launch of its S10 prototype now, although no one knows when it will be. As long as it ends up moving forward with the release, Musk has estimated that the S10 has a 60% chance of landing successfully.
They are not the worst odds I have ever seen. But if these spaceships are to “help humanity return to the Moon and travel to Mars and beyond,” how the company claims, they really have to figure out this whole thing about bursting into flames.