SpaceX faces regulatory hurdles before next mega rocket launch

SpaceX's starlink success: 22 satellites launched and booster returns to earth

SpaceX SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., Sept. 8, 2023 | via AP

SpaceX finds itself in the midst of regulatory challenges following the explosion of its colossal Starship rocket during its inaugural flight. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has concluded its investigation into the incident and issued a set of stringent requirements before the rocket can take flight again. These measures come in the form of 63 corrective actions mandated by the FAA, alongside a modified FAA license application.

The April launch mishap resulted in a spectacular explosion, sending debris soaring for thousands of meters and scattering pulverized concrete across kilometers. Elon Musk, the visionary behind SpaceX, responded by enhancing both the 394-foot rocket and its launch platform. The newly redesigned Starship now stands ready for its next launch, albeit empty.

During the initial test flight, the rocket spiraled out of control shortly after liftoff, crashing into the Gulf of Mexico. The root cause was identified as fuel leaks during ascent, which triggered fires at the rocket's tail, ultimately severing its connection with the main flight computer.

SpaceX acknowledges the lessons learned from this incident and remains committed to its ambitious goals. NASA is eyeing Starship for future moon missions, while Musk envisions a fleet of Starships that will transport humans and cargo to Mars.

Starlink internet satellites

In another SpaceX update, the company successfully launched 22 Starlink internet satellites on August 31 at 10:21 p.m. EDT (September 1, 07:51 a.m. IST). The Falcon 9 rocket carrying these satellites completed its mission with the first stage returning for a controlled landing on the drone ship "A Shortfall of Gravitas" in the Atlantic Ocean. This marked the seventh successful launch and landing for this particular booster, setting the stage for further spaceflight reuse records in the future.

The Falcon 9's upper stage is set to deploy the 22 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit about 65 minutes after liftoff. This launch followed a SpaceX doubleheader, with another Falcon 9 scheduled to launch 13 satellites for the US Space Force from Cape Canaveral earlier in the day. SpaceX continues to make strides in both rocket recovery and satellite deployment, advancing the realm of space technology.