The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has closed its investigation into the SpaceX Starship Super Heavy mishap. The final report addresses several causes of the April 20, 2023 mishap and 63 corrective actions that SpaceX should take to prevent the issue from happening again.
Corrective actions include redesigning vehicle hardware to prevent leaks and fires, redesigning the launch pad to increase its stability, incorporating additional checks into the design process, further analysis and testing of critical safety systems and components, including the Autonomous Flight Safety System, and using to further control change.
The closure of the accident investigation did not indicate an immediate continuation of the launch of the Starship in Boca Chica. SpaceX must implement all corrective actions that affect public safety and apply for and receive a license renewal from the FAA that meets all applicable regulatory, environmental, and safety requirements prior to the next launch. Starship.
SpaceX has also rolled out a full set of system performance updates unrelated to the issues seen during the first flight test. For example, SpaceX is building and testing a hot stage separation system, where the engines of the Starship’s second stage fire to propel the ship away from the booster. Additionally, SpaceX has designed a new electronic thrust vector control (TVC) system for the Super Heavy Raptor’s engines. By using all electric motors, the new system has fewer potential points of failure and is much more energy efficient than traditional hydraulic systems.
SpaceX also made significant improvements to the orbital launch platform and support system to prevent a recurrence of the platform base failure observed in the first flight test. These upgrades include significant reinforcements to the base of the platform and the addition of a flame deflector, which SpaceX has successfully tested several times.
Development flight hardware testing in a flight environment is what allows teams to quickly learn and implement design changes and hardware upgrades to improve the likelihood of success in future The company claims to have learned “a lot about the vehicle and ground systems during the first Starship flight test. “Recursive development is required as we work to create a fully reusable launch system. capable of transporting satellites, payloads, crews and cargo to various Earth, lunar or Martian orbits and landing sites.”