Less than a week after a group of 10 House Republicans urged the federal government to take over the investigation into the recent explosion of a SpaceX rocket, another group of lawmakers on Tuesday expressed support for the way the company was handling the review.
In a letter to the heads of the Air Force, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration, 24 members of Congress said that it was proper that SpaceX was leading the investigation.
“Accidents are unfortunate events, and accident investigations should not be politicized,” wrote the bipartisan group led by Rep. Bill Flores (R-Tex.). “We encourage you to reject calls for your organizations to abandon established, well-considered and long-standing procedures.”
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket exploded Sept. 1 as it was being refueled on a Cape Canaveral launch pad ahead of an engine test fire. It’s still not clear what caused the rocket to ignite, but the company has said there was a large breach inside a liquid oxygen fuel tank. It’s not known what caused the breach, but SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the company has “eliminated all of the obvious possibilities for what occurred there. So what remains are the less probable answers.”
He did not say what those could be.
Since there was no loss of life or injury and no outside property was extensively damaged, federal regulations call for the launch providers to conduct the investigations with oversight from the FAA. NASA and the Air Force are also helping with the investigation.
The lawmakers said they supported this approach in their letter Tuesday.
“We are pleased that FAA is maintaining a strong and prudent oversight role that appropriately draws upon private sector insight in ensuring a robust investigative process and safe return to flight for SpaceX,” the lawmakers wrote.