FAA required SpaceX to up its insurance for Starhopper test


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The FAA’s office that regulates commercial space required SpaceX to increase its insurance coverage for this week’s Starhopper test to $100 million, thirty three times higher than their coverage for the previous Starhopper hops.

Lots of information at the link, though in summary it all makes perfect sense.

There are a number of likely reasons the federal regulator required SpaceX to boost its insurance coverage, says George Nield, a former FAA associate administrator who led its Office of Commercial Space Transportation (OCST) for more than a decade.

One is that Tuesday’s launch took Starhopper hundreds of feet higher than in July; during the prior flight, SpaceX’s vehicle only went about 60 feet (18 meters) up before landing. “The higher you want to go, the more propellant you’re going to have to load, and the more propellant you load, the bigger the boom if it were to explode,” Nield told Business Insider prior to Tuesday’s launch.

More importantly, their Boca Chica launch site is only a mile and a half from a small village of about twenty people, much closer than any other launchpad in the world. How SpaceX will manage this issue should they wish to test fly their fullscale Starship prototype from this site I really do not know. It could be that they won’t, and will confine all test flights to Kennedy, where they are also building a second Starship prototype.

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2 comments

  • David K

    Given some of the risks (fires, evacuations), this does not seem unreasonable.

    As much as I hate over regulation, having predictable, consistent, and affordable regulatory policies is important to allow innovation of this kind in the private sector.

  • mpthompson

    I wonder how much the insurance cost SpaceX, or if they were self-insured. I sincerely hope that a balance is found between making sure private companies have reasonable resources to cover liabilities should something go really wrong, and government bureaucracy using insurance requirements as a mechanism to place smothering blanket over new space.

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