back to article SpaceX threatened with $175,000 fine for Starlink crash risk paperwork blunder

SpaceX may be fined $175,000 by America's Federal Aviation Administration for failing to hand over collision risk documents before it flew a group of Starlink satellites into space last year. The administration claimed SpaceX did not submit "launch collision analysis trajectory data'' prior to the launch of the Starlink Group …

  1. HereAndGone

    Safety Regulation?

    The document is required to be submitted ***7 days*** prior to launch so the FAA can evaluate it for safety and the ommission was discovered ***6 months*** later.


    1. AVR

      Re: Safety Regulation?

      The statement was issued 6 months later, i.e. last Friday. It seems unlikely that the statement was issued immediately upon discovery of the omission; it's just the wheels of justice grinding slowly.

      1. HereAndGone

        Re: Safety Regulation?

        While that certainly seems likely, are you suggesting that had the document been present it would have been analyzed and challenged for error in less than 7 days? I would have thought it's complete absence could have been readily analyzed and challenged even quicker. Given that didn't happen, my confidence in actually evaluating such a document in time to be of any use is somewhere very close to zero.

        1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

          Re: Safety Regulation?

          The FAA can notice a launch without complete documentation very quickly. They can take months to find out exactly why a document was missing and longer to decide what to do about it. During that time I would expect people outside the FAA and SpaceX to hear absolutely nothing. I am surprised it took only 6 months for this information to become public.

  2. chuckufarley Silver badge

    The Register has asked the company for comment. ®...

    ...Said the people the the Brick Wall.

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: The Register has asked the company for comment. ®...

      It seems Musky has outsourced the PR departments for all his businesses to Twitter's PR department.... Oh wait...

    2. WolfFan Silver badge

      Re: The Register has asked the company for comment. ®...

      Musketeers don’t use bricks. They use Precision Molded Kiln Fired Masonry Materials. These are far more expensive than mere bricks, and are suitable for many different aerospace and all-electric self-driving purposes.

    3. NoneSuch Silver badge

      Re: The Register has asked the company for comment. ®...

      "An enforcement letter addressed to SpaceX said the maximum civil penalty for flouting its rules is $262,666, according to CNBC. Officials at the administration, however, proposed a lower fine after reviewing the case in more detail."

      So they failed to file the paperwork, but they're sorry? Is that why a fine is almost halved? It's wither a violation, or it isn't. Or did Elon present a 50% off Federal Fine Coupon?

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: The Register has asked the company for comment. ®...

        The fine level is chosen by the enforcing organization, up to the cap. They likely reserve the highest fines for things like repeat offenses or ones where they've had less cooperation. I'm not sure if they've had to fine them for this specifically before, but that might be why the fine isn't set at the maximum.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Musk : I rule the world

    how dare you threaten me. Don't you know who I have in my back pocket?

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: Musk : I rule the world

      Can we just arrest musk now? All of his firms (SpaceX, Starlink, Twitter, Neuralink, ...) breach federal regulations regularly, bad mouth the authorities when they get court, and are just generally bad "citizens". Obviously that sort of attitude has to come from the Top, so I think it's time to start hitting the man at the top with some jail time, and watch how quickly things change...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Musk : I rule the world

        "bad mouth the authorities when they get court,"

        Is that "get TO court" or "get caught"? Never good to bad mouth a judge or his/her employers in court :-)

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Who Musk has

      He has a pack of lawyers telling him he can do anything and they will buy a new yacht/holiday home/... deal with the courts for him.

  4. Snowy Silver badge

    It is a fine?

    Where the fine is just a rounding error to the cost of the doing business?

    Was the fine less than the cost of producing the paperwork?

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: It is a fine?

      The reason for the delay was to work out what went wrong and how to stop it from happening again. Last time this happened (in Boca Chica) the FAA decided that no-one at SpaceX had the ability to work out if the paperwork was complete while also having the authority to delay a test fire/launch. Although there was a fine, the important part of the judgement was that Starbase would not get another launch licence until that got fixed. Presumably there is some change to the process at SpaceX that we cannot see that satisfies the FAA, and the fine resembles the cost of the investigation.

      Although the FAA could impose a punitive fine, the cost would go to US tax payers via the next NASA/Space Force launch and nothing constructive would be achieved.

      1. Snowy Silver badge

        Re: It is a fine?

        I think your replying to the wrong post as I made no mention of the delay in the fine rather the size of the fine.

        Your reason for them not getting a punitive fine is an odd one as that reason could be used by any one. The fine is only going to be paid by someesle when we put the price up.

    2. iron Silver badge

      Re: It is a fine?

      Yes it is. A fine of 1p is still a fine.

  5. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Patriot Missile

    Paperwork not in place when lauching?

    No problem. FAA has military on standby with a Patriot Missile battery nearby. Job done

    1. HereAndGone

      Re: Patriot Missile

      Just a reminder, the missing FAA paperwork was for a launch at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

      There were other adults in the room.

  6. Oneman2Many

    SN9 exploded in the air ?

    No it didn't, it exploded when it impacted with the ground.

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: SN9 exploded in the air ?

      Definitely a ground/ship hard interfacing issue before any explosion ...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SN9 exploded in the air ?

      AKA Lithobraking.

    3. Chris 239

      Re: SN9 exploded in the air ?

      Yep, they applied the lithobrakes at above their rated speed and orientation.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Contact for comment

    Hi, yeah we’re that website that once covered tech news but now mostly do skewed option pieces and really don’t like your boss. Can you please provide comment for us to take whatever you say out of context?

    Good luck with that one.

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