It appears that SpaceX neglected to provide the Federal Aviation Administration with necessary information before to launching 53 Starlink satellites from Florida last August (FAA). Now, the FAA wants to punish SpaceX with $175,000 for failing to share that information within at least seven days following the launch.
Because it’s needed to “estimate the probability of the launch vehicle colliding with one of the thousands of recorded objects orbiting the Earth,” the missing SpaceX data, according to the FAA, is crucial.
Photo Credit: the National Associate Of Flight Instructors
The FAA’s enforcement notice has 30 days for SpaceX to reply.
The FAA and SpaceX have previously argued over launches that appeared careless. For instance, according to The Washington Post, SpaceX asked the FAA for a waiver in 2021 so that it may “reach the maximum public risk allowed by federal safety laws” when launching a prototype spaceship. Following the FAA’s denial of the waiver, SpaceX nevertheless proceeded with the launch, which prompted an investigation and the temporary suspension of activities at one of SpaceX’s launch facilities.
Ultimately, SpaceX corrected the problems the FAA had found, although it was not apparent if the FAA had thought about fining SpaceX.
Musk publicly criticized the FAA in 2021, tweeting that the agency’s space division had a “fundamentally dysfunctional regulatory structure” and asserting that the FAA’s inspection backlog had caused launch schedule delays.
The CEO of United Launch Alliance, Tory Bruno, urged the FAA to enforce rules and licensing procedures in 2021, despite the fact that SpaceX appeared willing to flout the law at the time. He wanted to ensure that all commercial space launch providers took the FAA’s safety measures during launches seriously. Bruno recommended that the FAA firmly retaliate with “a deterrent set of sanctions that will cause them to think twice” if any corporation violates FAA safety standards and procedures.
Now that the FAA has proposed civil fines against SpaceX, it appears that it is prepared to heed that advise. This will help to ensure that all launches comply with the FAA’s requirements for sharing launch collision analysis trajectory data.