WASHINGTON — A test flight in Alaska of a small launch vehicle by a stealthy startup company ended in failure in late November, the Federal Aviation Administration has revealed.
In a speech Dec. 6 at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce space conference here discussing the agency’s approach to commercial spaceflight safety, FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell mentioned a recent, but previously unreported, accident involving a launch taking place from Alaska one week ago.
“The recent launch mishap is an example of why I’m confident we’re on the right track,” he said. “Look, rockets are complex, powerful vehicles that fail every now and again. But because of our approach to licensing and the precautions operators take, no one in the public has ever been hurt.”
“We saw that in Alaska a week ago today,” he continued. “Even though all five engines failed, all debris landed in the spaceport boundary and there were no injuries or property damage to the uninvolved public.”
Elwell didn’t provide additional details about the event, and left the conference without taking questions. However, according to the list maintained by the FAA on its website of licensed launches, there was a launch Nov. 29 by Astra of its ...