Congressional Letter Supports SpaceX Firexplanomaly Investigation

Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit: USLaunchReport.com)
Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit: USLaunchReport.com)

Twenty-four members of Congress have written a letter to the administrators of NASA and the FAA and the secretary of the U.S. Air Force supporting the SpaceX-led investigation into the loss of one of the company’s Falcon 9 boosters last month.

“The FAA has established regulations that govern licensing as well as mishap and accident investigations,” said the letter. “Consistent with regulations, the Falcon 9 anomaly has been properly classified as a ‘mishap” under federal law and is being resolved under applicable regulatory procedures.”

The letter, which was authored by Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), is a response to an earlier letter sent last week by 10 members of Congress seeking answers to a series of questions about the loss of SpaceX Falcon 9 boosters last month and in June 2015.

“We feel strongly that the current investigation should be led by NASA and the Air Force to ensure that proper investigative engineering rigor is applied and that the outcomes are sufficient to prevent NASA and military launch mishaps in the future,” said the earlier letter, which was authored by Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.).

However, the new letter said that FAA oversight and the involvement by NASA and the Air Force in the investigation into the September accident was more than sufficient.

“We are pleased the FAA is maintaining a strong and prudent oversight role that appropriately draws upon private sector insight in ensuring a robust investigative process and safe return to flight for SpaceX,” the letter states.

“Further, we understand that the Air Force and NASA, as well as their federally-funded technical advisors, are actively participating in the Accident Investigation Team at the request of SpaceX, as well as pursuing parallel reviews,” the letter added. “We applaud this approach as consistent with long-standing accident investigation procedures and post-anomaly return-to-flight processes internal to Air Force and NASA regulations.”

The letter was also signed by Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), Ted W. Lieu (D-Calif.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Janice Hahn (D-Calif.), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Scott Perry (R-Penn.), Bill Shuster (R-Penn.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Filemon Vela (D-Texas),  Brenda T. Lawrence (D-Mich.),   Mark E. Amodei (R-Nev.),  Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.), Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) and Donald Norcross (D-N.J.).

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