FAA: SpaceX Launched Starship SN8 Without Approval

Starship SN8 explodes on impact. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has provided more information on SpaceX’s SN8 launch in December and the delay in issuing a license for the SN9 flight conducted yesterday. Basically, the agency says SpaceX proceeded with the December launch without approval, but it is not fining the company for the violation.

FAA Statement on Starship SN8 Launch

Regarding the SpaceX Starship SN8 launch in December 2020, the company proceeded with the launch without demonstrating that the public risk from far field blast overpressure was within the regulatory criteria specified by 14 CFR ยง 431.35(b)(1)(i).

The FAA required SpaceX to conduct an investigation of the incident, including a comprehensive review of the company’s safety culture, operational decision-making and process discipline. All testing that could affect public safety at the Boca Chica launch site was suspended until the investigation was completed and the FAA approved the company’s corrective actions.

With respect to potential enforcement action, the FAA’s compliance monitoring and enforcement is designed to modify behavior to comply with federal safety regulations. It also has various enforcement tools available to ensure satisfactory public safety results.

The FAA-approved corrective actions implemented by SpaceX enhanced public safety. Those actions were incorporated into today’s SN9 launch. We anticipate taking no further enforcement action on SN8 matter.