FAA Approves Next Three SpaceX Starship Flight Tests

Starship SN8 takes off from Boca Chica, Texas. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

FAA Statement

The FAA has authorized the next three launches or the SpaceX Starship prototype. The agency approved multiple launches because SpaceX is making few changes on the launch vehicle and relied on the FAA’s approved methodology to calculate the risk to the public. The FAA authorized the launches on Wednesday, April 28.

Prior to the launch of SN15, the FAA will verify that SpaceX implemented corrective action arising from the SN11 mishap investigation. For the launch of SN16 and SN17, SpaceX may be subject to additional corrective actions if any new mishap investigations were to occur.

Background

  • “Risk to the public” refers to the requirement that SpaceX ensure the risk meets regulatory requirements.
  • If SpaceX proposes to change how public risk is calculate for any of the three authorized launches, a new FAA safety analysis and license modification will be required.
  • The SN11 mishap remains open. The FAA has analyzed and adjudicated public safety related concerns for return to flight and issued a favorable public safety determination to allow the licensing process to proceed.
  • As a condition of the SpaceX license, an FAA safety inspector is required to be on site in Boca Chica, Texas, for all Starship launches. The FAA inspector is expected to arrive on site on April 29 to support a possible launch this week.