The Federal Aviation Administration announced on Friday that it has officially closed its investigation into the SpaceX Starship Super Heavy mishap, identifying 63 corrective actions that SpaceX must take before the company can attempt another launch.
The required corrective actions include “redesigns of vehicle hardware to prevent leaks and fires, redesign of the launch pad to increase its robustness, incorporation of additional reviews in the design process, [and] additional analysis and testing of safety-critical systems,” among other changes.
“The closure of the mishap investigation does not signal an immediate resumption of Starship launches at Boca Chica,” the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement.
SpaceX was gearing up for a second launch attempt of its Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket at its Boca Chica base last week. The world’s largest rocket stood “fully stacked” at the launch site in South Texas on Tuesday.
“Starship is ready to launch, awaiting FAA license approval,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk said in a post on X on September 5.
Fully stacked Starship on the launch pad at Starbase pic.twitter.com/cebFZEVrJZ
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 6, 2023
Once SpaceX completes the 63 design improvements and gets the green light from the FAA, the countdown to takeoff will officially commence.
“Fully stacked Starship on the launch pad at Starbase,” posted SpaceX, with photos and video of the completed rocket.
Towering nearly 400 feet in the air with a weight of 11 million pounds and more thrust power than NASA’s Saturn V rocket, Starship is the largest and most powerful rocket ever flown.
The debut launch of Starship in April — attended by The Dallas Express — did not go as planned. Although the rocket cleared the launch pad, it did not reach sufficient altitude to enter orbit, forcing SpaceX to activate its flight termination system.
Despite exploding 18 miles over the Gulf Coast and blasting an enormous hole in the launchpad, SpaceX deemed the debut flight a success and said it would use the data gathered to improve future launch attempts.
According to Musk, Starship has undergone numerous changes to ensure the follow-up flight has better odds of success.
“There are really a tremendous number of changes between the last Starship flight and this one, well over 1,000,” Musk said in a June interview, The Dallas Morning News reported. “I think the probability of this next flight working, you know getting to orbit, is much higher than the last one.”
During Starship’s first liftoff, the rocket’s 33 Raptor engines reportedly spread particulate matter for miles, flinging chunks of concrete and metal sheets into environmentally sensitive habitats, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
The incident prompted a lawsuit from several environmentalist organizations, including the Center for Biological Diversity, the American Bird Conservancy, the Surfrider Foundation, Save Rio Grande Valley, and the Carrizo-Comecrudo Nation of Texas.