The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Tuesday it was in “close contact” with SpaceX as the company reviewed a fire that occurred as part of its Super Heavy booster rocket development, but that the agency was barred from investigating the matter.
The FAA said US law “limits the FAA’s safety oversight to protecting the public during scheduled launch and re-entry operations. Yesterday’s event does not fall under the agency’s jurisdiction.”
A booster rocket developed by Elon Musk's SpaceX for its next-generation Starship spacecraft burst into flames during a ground-test firing on Monday in Texas, dealing a likely setback to Musk's aim of launching Starship to orbit this year.
The failure came in the midst of a days-long static fire test campaign in Boca Chica, Texas, of the booster, equipped with 33 Raptor engines for use in an upcoming unmanned orbital test flight SpaceX hoped to launch later this year.
“Yeah, actually not good. Team is assessing damage,” Musk said on Twitter after the evening explosion of the Super Heavy Booster 7 prototype, as seen in live stream footage recorded by the website NASA space flight.
The explosion, which engulfed the base of the rocket in a ball of flames and heavy smoke and appeared to shake the video camera, was specific to the engine spin start test, Musk said.