Elon Musk’s SpaceX violated its launch license in explosive Starship test, triggering an FAA probe

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Gives Update On Starship Launch Vehicle At Texas Launch Facility
Photo by Loren Elliott / Getty Images

SpaceX’s first high-altitude test flight of its Starship rocket, which launched successfully but exploded in a botched landing attempt in December, violated the terms of its Federal Aviation Administration test license, according to two people familiar with the incident. Both the landing explosion and license violation prompted a formal investigation by the FAA, driving regulators to put extra scrutiny on Elon Musk’s hasty Mars rocket test campaign.

The December test launch of the “Serial Number 8” Starship prototype at SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas, facilities was hailed by Musk as a success: “Mars, here we come!!” the chief executive tweeted moments after the rocket exploded on its landing, celebrating SN8’s successful 8-mile-high ascent…

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