FAA Orders 63 Fixes For SpaceX’s Starship (Corrected)


The FAA has ordered SpaceX to fix 63 deficiencies in its Starship megarocket system before it can attempt another launch. Earlier this week the company said it was ready to take a second crack at getting the Starship into orbit after a spectacular failure in April. The agency said Friday that its joint investigation into the launch, which began with substantial destruction of the Boca Chica, Texas, launch site and ended four minutes later with the explosion of the rocket over the Gulf of Mexico, has concluded.

“The closure of the mishap investigation does not signal an immediate resumption of Starship launches at Boca Chica. SpaceX must implement all [63] corrective actions that impact public safety and apply for and receive a license modification from the FAA that addresses all safety, environmental and other applicable regulatory requirements prior to the next Starship launch,” an FAA statement said. SpaceX also issued a statement saying it was “ready to launch.”

The FAA wants SpaceX to prevent the launch pad from blowing to pieces under the blast of the rocket’s 33 engines, and it also wants systems on the spacecraft to be upgraded to “prevent leaks and fires” and to analyze and test onboard safety systems. It’s believed a leaky fuel tank resulted in a fire that cut communications between the computer and the main booster. That prevented the first stage separation and also the autonomous flight control system that should have blown up the rocket. Instead, it tumbled out of control and blew up on its own.

Musk says SpaceX has “thousands of upgrades” to the entire system including a flame deflector on the launch pad and redesign of systems on the rocket to make them more robust. He has not commented on the FAA statement regarding the 63 deficiencies and it’s not clear how long it will take to satisfy the agency’s requirements. 

An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the SpaceX system will be used for the first crewed Artemis mission to the moon in 2025. The SpaceX HLs lander will be used but the SLS booster will be the first stage.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

Other AVwebflash Articles


  1. The changes are approved as mitigations by the FAA, not designed by or ordered by the FAA. The FAA does not and cannot provide detailed design advice for building rockets!
    This is done by SpaceX, and approved by the FAA to resolve issues identified in flight 1.

    It is also a misconception that this release is the first SpaceX knew about these changes. SpaceX has led this process all the way, has already implemented most if not all of these changes, with the FAA merely providing oversight.

    • Making it appear they (FAA) know something about it and taking action is typically the way they do things. Always after the fact.

  2. “SpaceX has led this process all the way, has already implemented most if not all of these changes, with the FAA merely providing oversight.’ Indeed … and might explain Musk’s “ready to launch”…

  3. It would be interesting to see the list of 63 items and how many SpaceX has already completed. For example, they have already completed the redesign of the blast pad and test fired the booster to see how it held up. They have also changed the booster separation process and upgraded the auto-destruct system to eliminate that issue. I suspect they are pretty well along in getting the items completed.