SpaceX set to take four astronauts to ISS Thursday

US House panel probes SpaceX launch activities


Washington: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said on Monday that it is investigating SpaceX commercial space launches that regulators believe violated U.S. safety requirements and its testing permits.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in February that SpaceX launched the Starship SN8 in December, but the company did not prove that the public risk of “far-field explosion overpressure” was within regulatory standards.

The FAA stated that if the launch vehicle explodes upon impact, the overpressure of the far-field explosion may pose a danger to the public and may generate shock waves, which may damage windows in areas far from the impact point.

The Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Peter DeFazio (Peter DeFazio) and the representative of the Aviation Subcommittee, Rick Larsen, said in a letter to the FAA last Thursday: In nature, we are disappointed by the FAA’s refusal to conduct an independent review. As far as we know, no enforcement action of any kind has been taken.”

The letter said that committee staff have reviewed the “SpaceX launch activities, which together have caused serious problems.”

SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment, and the FAA declined to comment on this letter. This letter was reported by Politico earlier.

The FAA said in February that it has asked SpaceX to investigate the incident, including a comprehensive review of its safety culture, “operational decision-making and process discipline.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered a suspension of some tests at the Boca Chica launch site in Texas until the investigation was completed and the company’s corrective measures were approved.

The FAA said SpaceX’s corrective actions were incorporated into a February launch and that it anticipated “taking no further enforcement action on SN8 matter.”

SpaceX owner and Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted on Sunday about a “possible Starship flight tomorrow afternoon.” He said on Monday that “FAA inspector unable to reach Starbase in time for launch today. Postponed to no earlier than tomorrow.”

The FAA said on Monday it revised SpaceX’s license effective March 12 to require an FAA inspector be present for every SpaceX flight. As a “result of FAA’s continuing oversight of SpaceX to ensure compliance with federal regulations to protect public safety… SpaceX must provide adequate notice of its launch schedule to allow for a FAA safety inspector to travel to Boca Chica.”

In January, Musk tweeted that the FAA’s “space division has a fundamentally broken regulatory structure” and that “humanity will never get to Mars” under its rules. 

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