US aviation safety regulator proposes to fine SpaceX $175,000

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HAWTHORNE: Aviation safety regulator proposed fining SpaceX USD 175,000 for allegedly failing to provide launch-related data before a satellite mission the company conducted last year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

It is the first such penalty the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has sought from SpaceX, according to a spokesman for the agency. SpaceX has conducted hundreds of rocket flights over the years, including 61 in 2022, according to the Wall Street Journal. This year, SpaceX founder Elon Musk has said, the company has set a goal of launching to orbit 100 times.

An FAA spokesman said that for a Starlink satellite launch last year, SpaceX didn’t submit an analysis about collision-related probabilities in orbit prior to the flight, as required by the agency. The agency ultimately obtained that data, he said.

A spokesman for Space Exploration Technologies, the company’s formal name, didn’t respond to requests for comment. According to Wall Street Journal, the company has 30 days to respond to the FAA after receiving its enforcement letter and can contest the proposed penalty, according to the agency.

According to WSJ, the company has said previously that it is committed to safe practices across its operations, which include launching payloads and crew members on its fleet of rockets and deploying thousands of Starlink satellites to orbits near Earth.

“SpaceX has demonstrated this commitment to space safety through action, investing significant resources to ensure that all our launch vehicles, spacecraft, and satellites meet or exceed space safety regulations and best practices,” the company said in a statement posted to its website last year.

The FAA licenses commercial space launches and re-entries. According to WSJ, officials from the agency and space industry have been discussing ways to better integrate a growing number of rocket launches–including from sites in Florida, Virginia and California–into aviation corridors that also are used by the commercial airline industry. (ANI)

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