Musk Says Starship Ready to Fly From Boca Chica in July

Elon has always been optimistic on timetables, so we’ll see how long it takes.

The range is anywhere from 17 to 47 days from Musk’s June 14 tweet. You get a range of two to five months when you put those numbers into the Elon Time Converter. That means anywhere from mid-August to mid-November.

My guess is Aug. 15. Feel free to provide your best guess in the comments below. All dates must be for Central Time in Boca Chica. The actual date of the flight may vary depending upon where you live in the world. And, as always, no wagering!

FAA Stresses Required Environmental Mitigation Actions in Finding No Significant Impact From SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy Launches

Starship/Super Heavy on the launch pad at Boca Chica, Texas. (Credit: SpaceX)

WASHINGTON (FAA PR) — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will require SpaceX to take more than 75 actions to mitigate environmental impacts from its proposed plan to launch the Starship/Super Heavy vehicle from Boca Chica, Texas. 

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FAA Finds No Significant Impact From SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy Launches From Boca Chica, Order Mitigation Steps

Jets fly by SpaceX’s Super Heavy/Starship launch system. (Credit: Jared Isaacman)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The FAA issued a mitigated Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) decision on Monday that will SpaceX to launch its massive Starship/Super Heavy booster combination from its Starbase facility at Boca Chica, Texas. In order to launch, however, SpaceX must take a series of more than 75 actions to mitigate the impact on a sensitive wildlife areas that adjoin the launch base and the endangered and threatened species that live there.

FAA’s decision is a major step forward for SpaceX’s plans for a maiden flight of the booster combination from the Gulf Coast facility located just north of the Mexican border. It might also lead to litigation by a coalition of the environmental groups who believe the launch base is incompatible with the surrounding area.

FAA still needs to issue a launch license to SpaceX. The company plans to conduct a suborbital flight of the boosters that would see Starship crash into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii.

FAA’s decision is also good news for NASA. The space agency awarded a $2.9 billion contract to SpaceX to develop the Human Landing System (HLS) that will return U.S. astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time in more than half a century. The company is adapting Starship to be the lander; Super Heavy would launch it into space.

Starship/Super Heavy is the foundation of Elon Musk’s plan to colonize Mars. It is designed to launch 100 to 150 metric tons into Earth orbit.

FAA Delays Environmental Assessment for SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy Another 2 Weeks

Super Heavy/Starship system in flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

FAA Statement

The FAA intends to issue the Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for the SpaceX Starship / Super Heavy project on June 13, 2022. Interagency consultation is ongoing.

The completion of the PEA will not guarantee that the FAA will issue a launch license. SpaceX’s application also must meet FAA safety, risk and financial responsibility requirements.

In addition, the comments submitted during the Draft PEA public comment period are posted here

Video: Go up SpaceX’s Starship-catching robotic launch tower with Elon Musk!

Video Caption: Today we’re going up SpaceX’s Orbital Launch Tower with the ultimate tour guide, Elon Musk. He’s going to walk us around the bottom, explain how they plan to catch the booster with the chopsticks and then we’ll go up the elevator stopping at the quick disconnect and on the upper deck!

Recommended videos to help with some context [Playlist] – https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLW…

Huge thanks to Ryan Chylinksi from Cosmic Perspective for helping shoot this video! – https://www.youtube.com/c/CosmicPersp… & http://patreon.com/cosmicperspective

SpaceX Looks to Raise $1.725 Billion in New Capital, $750 Million in Secondary Sale

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

CNBC reports on two stock sales by Elon Musk’s SpaceX that would send the company’s valuation to $127 billion:

The space venture is looking to bring in up to $1.725 billion in new capital, at a price of $70 per share, according to a company-wide email on Friday obtained by CNBC. Notably, SpaceX split its stock price 10-for-1 in February, which reduced the common stock to $56 a share – with the new valuation representing a 25% increase.

SpaceX is also conducting a secondary sale to company insiders and existing shareholders for up to $750 million in common stock. The company conducts these secondary offerings regularly, as a way for long-time stockholders to sell equity, given that SpaceX remains private more than 20 years since its founding.

The New York Post quoted a source as saying there was “very tepid demand” to SpaceX’s latest effort to raise capital, which would help to fund the company’s Starlink broadband satellite constellation and Starship/Super Heavy booster. The company raised $1.9 billion in 2020.

“No one is paying up for anything in this market,” the second source said, with public and private valuations of tech companies collapsing.

Part of Musk’s problem could be that many of his investors who typically participate in his fund-raisings committed several billion earlier this month to co-invest with him in Twitter. Now that position does not look great considering that Musk has questioned the social media giant’s financials.

Those loyal Musk investors for the moment might be somewhat tapped out, the first source said.

The value of Tesla stock has plunged since Musk announced plans to spend $44 billion to acquire Twitter. The decline in the stock has come amidst a general decline in tech stocks.

Musk has put the purchase on hold, saying that a lower price might be warranted if the number of automated bot accounts on Twitter are more than the company has previously stated. Twitter’s board, which approached the acquisition, said it will seek to enforce the sale.

Meanwhile, Musk has faced charges that he exposed himself to a SpaceX flight attendant and propositioned her for sex during a private jet trip to Europe. SpaceX is reported to have paid a $250,000 severance to the woman with a non-disclosure agreement that she not discuss the matter or disparate Musk or SpaceX.

Video: Elon Musk Explains Updates to Starship and Starbase

Video Caption: Today we’re going inside Starbase with the ultimate tour guide, Elon Musk. He’s going to take us through the High Bay to see where Starships are assembled, we’ll also see the new MegaBay under construction and talk about SpaceX’s plans to get this rocket flying.

Recommended videos to help with some context [Playlist] – https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLW…

Huge thanks to Ryan Chylinksi from Cosmic Perspective for helping shoot this video! – https://www.youtube.com/c/CosmicPersp... & http://patreon.com/cosmicperspective

FAA Pushes Starbase Environmental Assessment Back Another Month

Starship SN8 takes off from Boca Chica, Texas. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

FAA Statement

The FAA is working toward issuing the final Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for the SpaceX Starship / Super Heavy on May 31, 2022. SpaceX made multiple changes to its application that require additional FAA analysis. The agency continues to review around 18,000 general public comments. 

The completion of the PEA will not guarantee that the FAA will issue a launch license. SpaceX’s application must also meet FAA safety, risk and financial responsibility requirements.

Texas Gov. Abbott Vows to Fight for SpaceX to Launch From Boca Chica

Greg Abbott

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has vowed to fight for SpaceX to receive federal approval to launch its Super Heavy/Starship system from the company’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas. Rio Grande Guardian reports:

Asked by veteran broadcaster Ron Whitlock of Ron Whitlock Reports whether he is concerned about losing SpaceX, Abbott said:

“What I am going to do if Biden interferes with the ability of SpaceX to launch from Boca Chica; I am going to be working every step of the way to make sure that they are going to be able to launch from Boca Chica. We heard the vision from Mr. Patel himself about what they are working on and our job is to make sure they are able to achieve their vision. And I have worked with Elon Musk very closely with regard to Tesla and the Giga factory in Austin, Texas. And we will be working with him very closely, every step of the way in Boca Chica for the future of SpaceX. We want that future and that vision to come from Boca Chica, from Brownsville, Texas.”

Whitlock followed up with: “And not to Florida?” Abbott responded: “Correct.”

Whitlock interviewed Abbott at an economic development event held recently at the Port of Brownsville. Since this event, SpaceX has learned that its application to expand its Boca Chica rocket launching site has hit a new hurdle.

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Suspends SpaceX’s Application to Expand Boca Chica Launch Facility

The purple line surrounds parts of SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility that has been developed. Additional facilities would be added below that area. The dotted line delineates SpaceX’s property line. The orange areas are unvegetated salt flats. The green areas are high marsh areas. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Elon Musk’s controversial plan to launch SpaceX’s Super Heavy/Starship system from Boca Chica, Texas has hit another snag as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has suspended review of the company’s application for an expansion of its Starbase spaceport. The reason: SpaceX’s failure to provide additional information requested from the company on May 21, 2021. The application can be revived if SpaceX provides the requested information.

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Space Organizations Urge FAA to Approve Boca Chica Site for Super Heavy/Starship Flight Tests

The purple line surrounds parts of SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility that has been developed. Additional facilities would be added below that area. The dotted line delineates SpaceX’s property line. The orange areas are unvegetated salt flats. The green areas are high marsh areas. (Credit: SpaceX)

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (Mars Society PR) — A group of 14 space advocacy organizations today published a joint statement urging rapid U.S. government approval of SpaceX’s Starship test flights.

Commenting on the initiative, Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin said: “The organizations that have come together to make this statement represent every point of view within the space community. Whether one’s priority is settling Mars, developing space commerce, exploring the Moon, assuring national security, or gaining new knowledge of the Earth, the planets, or the universe, we all agree that it is vital that this program be allowed to move forward. There may be many more hurdles like this that SpaceX and others seeking to open the space frontier will face, but this statement shows that the often-fractured movement of space advocates can come together to help when it really counts.” 

The statement and its signatories are shown below. 

The SpaceX Starship offers extraordinary potential benefits for the exploration and development of space by both the public and private sectors. It will enable many new commercial space ventures as well as dramatically lower the costs and raise the frequency of scientific missions that will provide amazing new knowledge about our universe and home planet.

Its relatively clean environmental footprint, the large savings it offers U.S. taxpayers as a means of transport for government programs and missions and its ability to rapidly and regularly deliver satellite constellations and payloads to orbit will enhance national security, increase high paying jobs in the space sector, and propel American space leadership far ahead of any global competitors.

Therefore we, the undersigned organizations, strongly urge the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other federal agencies to provide full approval to SpaceX to begin orbital test flights of the Starship at the earliest possible date.
 

Approved by:

The Mars Society
National Space Society
Earthlight Foundation
Alliance for Space Development
Space Development Foundation
Space Development Network
The Moon Society
The Mars Foundation
Space for Humanity
Tea Party in Space
For All Moonkind
The Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration
The Space Resources Roundtable
The Space Development Steering Committee

SpaceX to Cap Crew Dragon Production at 4 Capsules

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is pictured after undocking from the forward port on the Harmony module beginning its short trip to the space-facing port. (Credit: NASA TV)

Reuters reports that SpaceX will build only four Crew Dragon capsules as it shifts resources to its Super Heavy/Starship program.

Capping the fleet at four Crew Dragons adds more urgency to the development of the astronaut capsule’s eventual successor, Starship, SpaceX’s moon and Mars rocket. Starship’s debut launch has been delayed for months by engine development hurdles and regulatory reviews.

It also poses new challenges as the company learns how to maintain a fleet and quickly fix unexpected problems without holding up a busy schedule of astronaut missions.

“We are finishing our final (capsule), but we still are manufacturing components, because we’ll be refurbishing,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told Reuters, confirming the plan to end Crew Dragon manufacturing.

She added that SpaceX would retain the capability to build more capsules if a need arises in the future, but contended that “fleet management is key.”

Crew Dragon is designed to be flown 10 times with refurbishment between each flight. SpaceX launches astronauts to the International Space Station under a NASA contract. The company is also sending private missions to the space station and on short trips to orbit.

Super Heavy and Starship vehicles are being designed for rapid reuse and airplane like operations.

Texas Leaders Pressuring FAA to Approve SpaceX’s Boca Chica Site for Super Heavy/Starship Launches

Super Heavy/Starship system in flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Elon Musk’s recent update on the progress of SpaceX’s Super Heavy/Starship launch system didn’t provide much in the way of technical news. However, the billionaire’s presentation did seem to have had its intended political effect.

Musk was clear that if the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t come through with an approval to conduct launches from its Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, SpaceX will move operations to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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FAA Delays Draft Environmental Assessment for SpaceX’s Starbase Launch Site in Texas

Jets fly by SpaceX’s Super Heavy/Starship launch system. (Credit: Jared Isaacman)

WASHINGTON (FAA PR) — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published the Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment for the SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy Launch Vehicle Program at the SpaceX Boca Chica Launch Site in Cameron County, Texas (Draft PEA) on September 17, 2021, for public review and comment. The FAA received over 19,000 comments on the Draft PEA and will post the comments on the project website by February 18th. The project website can be found here: https://www.faa.gov/space/stakeholder_engagement/spacex_starship/.

SpaceX recently provided draft responses for these public comments received on the Draft PEA to the FAA for its review. SpaceX is also finalizing the Final PEA for the FAA’s review, acceptance, and coordination with the cooperating agencies. In addition, the FAA is continuing consultation and coordination with other agencies.

The FAA is updating the anticipated release date for the Final PEA on the Federal Infrastructure Permitting Dashboard (Permitting Dashboard) and project website. The FAA intended to release the Final PEA on February 28, 2022. The FAA now plans to release the Final PEA on March 28, 2022 to account for further comment review and ongoing interagency consultations. A notice will be sent to individuals and organizations on the project distribution list when the Final PEA is available.

Thank you for your interest in the environmental review process. 

The FAA SpaceX Boca Chica Project Team

Polaris Program will Undertake a Series of Pioneering SpaceX Dragon Missions, Demonstrating New Technologies and Culminating in the First Human Spaceflight on Starship

Polaris Dawn crew: Jared Isaacman, Anna Menon, Sarah Gillis and Scott Poteet. (Credit: Jared Isaacman)

LOS ANGELES, CA, February 14, 2022 (Jared Isaacman PR) – Today Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Shift4 (NYSE: FOUR), announced the Polaris Program, a first-of-its-kind effort to rapidly advance human spaceflight capabilities, while continuing to raise funds and awareness for important causes here on Earth. The program will consist of up to three human spaceflight missions that will demonstrate new technologies, conduct extensive research, and ultimately culminate in the first flight of SpaceX’s Starship with humans on board.

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