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FAA plans to complete Starship’s safety review in October


The head of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Division believes the FAA could complete the safety reviews needed to renew SpaceX’s Starship launch license by the end of October, but the concurrent environmental review is a “wild card.” to this program. Calvin Coleman, the FAA’s deputy administrator for commercial space transportation, said in a Sept. 18 interview that his office worked well with SpaceX to confirm that the company had taken corrective actions as a result of the accident investigation, which the FAA has officially closed. 8 September. Public safety.

Of the 63 corrective actions listed in the accident report, 27 were related to public safety, Coleman said. “So what we need to see before the next operation is evidence that the company has shut down corrective actions specifically related to public safety,” he said.

This is due to a change in the FAA launch license granted to SpaceX for the Starship/Super Heavy launch in April. This license was valid only for a launch that occurred on April 20 and required the company to request that the FAA amend it to allow additional launches; this would be necessary regardless of the outcome of the launch.

“We have a pretty good program,” he said, echoing comments made by FAA Acting Administrator Polly Trottenberg at a Sept. 13 conference in which she predicted the modified license could be ready as soon as October. “This will likely result in the security review being completed by mid-to-late October.”

He also added that a security check is not enough to replace a licence. A separate environmental review is required to examine changes made to the launch pad’s infrastructure, including the drainage system, aimed at minimizing damage to the pad during the launch in April.

This review is being conducted in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to comply with the Endangered Species Act. A spokesman for that agency said Sept. 19 that the Fish and Wildlife Service was “discussing the details of the project with FAA staff to understand the extent of any new impacts” from the flooding system.

“Consultation will resume after the Service reviews the FAA’s final biological assessment and deems it complete. We have 135 days to issue a final biological opinion,” he said. “This part is a bit of a weird card,” Coleman said of the environmental review. “We hope this section will end somewhere near the security check.”

Although the FAA has faced criticism for allegedly slowing down SpaceX, Coleman said his office has a good working relationship with the company and maintains regular communication with SpaceX executives. “I think we’re all trying to tackle the immediate challenges we face, but we’re also thinking more strategically about how we can improve our relationship and engage better as we move forward with different programs in the future.”

Those discussions included a visit last week by SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk, who spoke with Trottenberg, Executive Vice President Kathy Thomson and Coleman about the licensing process. “We had a nice meeting with him,” he said.

“I think the relationship is going pretty well,” he concluded, noting that SpaceX is “pushing” to resume flight as soon as possible to make progress on missions that will use Starship, such as a lunar lander variant of Artemis. “From time to time we have to overcome some difficulties.”

Source: Port Altele

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