Elon Musk’s SpaceX may have resumed commercial launches, but congressional investigators still aren’t satisfied with the company’s safety standards, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The WSJ quoted officials Thursday as saying that the Government Accountability Office’s investigation into the Falcon 9 rockets has uncovered “persistent cracking of vital propulsion components.” The problem mainly affects turbine blades that pump fuel into the rocket’s engines. The findings are preliminary, and the GAO report is due to be released in the next few weeks, according to the WSJ.
It added that NASA has already warned the company that cracking in the so-called turbopumps is an “unacceptable” risk. It’s one that NASA has known about for some time, with cracks found during tests as recently as last September, the WSJ quoted acting NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot as saying.
The GAO’s conditions could prove a big setback to SpaceX, which aims to offer manned spaceflight launches in the future alongside its current satellite launching business, which is already backed up due to a four-month hiatus after a Falcon 9 exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral in September. The incident cost it over $200 million in lost revenue. SpaceX resumed launches in January with an incident-free flight.