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.
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. 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 Guardianreports:
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.
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.
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.
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
Reutersreports 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.
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.
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.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk will give an update on the development of Starship and Super Heavy boosters live from Starbase in Texas on Thursday at 9 p.m. EST (02:00 UTC on Friday). You can watch the webcast at www.spacex.com.
Arianespace will launch 34 OneWeb satellites aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. Liftoff is scheduled for 1:09 p.m. EST (18:09 UTC). You can watch the launch here.
Astra Space will attempt to launch four CubeSats for NASA for the third time on Thursday, Feb. 10. The launch window opens at 3 p.m. EST (20:00 UTC). You can watch a webcast of the launch at astra.com/livestream.
ESG Hound called in to discuss the ongoing FAA environmental assessment of SpaceX’s Boca Chica Starbase and the legal issues surrounding it. Most of the media have all but ignored the subject. It’s worth understanding in light of Elon Musk’s Starship update on Thursday evening at 9 p.m. EST.
We also talked about Virgin Galactic’s new president, Spaceport America’s multi-million dollar revenue problem, the proliferation of private space stations and modules, and what is shaping up to the busiest launch year in history.
I had a great time. Thank you to David for inviting me on. Thanks to ESG Hound for illuminating the issues at stake in the FAA’s attempt to approve Super Heavy/Starship launches from Boca Chica.
Video Caption: For the past eleven months, the Federal Aviation Administration has been taking public input regarding SpaceXs Boca Chica activities, but on September 17th, 2021 they announced their final push on Twitter.
The Common Sense Skeptic Community has now responded directly to the FAA with the transcript of this video.
SpaceX unsuccessfully applied for NASA funding to begin work on adapting the Human Landing System (HLS) it is building to send American astronauts to the lunar surface into a commercial Earth orbiting space station, according to a newly released government document.
The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has awarded SpaceX a $102 million contract to provide more concrete data on how the company’s reusable Super Heavy/Starship vehicles could be used to rapidly deliver cargo to remote locations on Earth. C4ISRNETreports:
The U.S. Air Force in its fiscal 2022 budget request designated the program one of AFRL’s Vanguard efforts, boosting its profile as a potentially transformational technology. [Program manager Greg] Spanjers told C4ISRNET in an email this week the program represents “a big-bet [science and technology] investment,” noting its designation as a Vanguard effort is a recognition it could offer a “game-changing capability.”
To date, AFRL has awarded several Rocket Cargo contracts for analytics, landing material research, wind tunnel sensors and command-and-control systems development, but this week’s award to SpaceX is the first deal with a launch vehicle provider. According to Spanjers, the lab is engaged with other launch providers and will consider awarding additional contracts later in the program.
Spanjers said the SpaceX work is focused in four areas: collecting data from commercial orbital launches and landings; exploring cargo bay designs compatible with U.S. Transportation Command containers and support rapid loading and unloading; researching landing systems that can operate on a variety of terrain; and demonstrating the heavy cargo launch and landing process.
The problem: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Park Service do not agree that launching the world’s most powerful rocket will have a non-significant impact on federal and state-managed wildlife refuges and national monuments that surround the Boca Chica launch site. Without their sign off, ESG Hound says the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can’t approve the plan using an ongoing environmental assessment that it aims to complete by Jan. 31. A more complicated and lengthy environmental review would be required, resulting in years of delays.
Further, if SpaceX has viable alternatives for Super Heavy/Starship launches in Florida, the company might be required to abandon the Starbase site in Texas. Developing news facilities could result in significant delays to Super Heavy/Starship and the Human Landing System that SpaceX is building for NASA to return astronauts to the lunar surface.
Confused? Let’s review a little bit of history first.
Faced with increased competition from Texas, Georgia and other states, Florida legislators are eyeing new ways to keep companies launching from the Sunshine State. Florida Politics reports:
Zero G Zero Fee’ bills would create tax exemptions for anything launched into space from Florida.
What if a company could launch a rocket into space from Florida and pay no sales tax on the rocket, its payload, its fuel or even the concrete, steel and equipment needed to create the launch pad?
That would be the reality if lawmakers this Session approve legislation from Sen. Tom Wrightand Rep. Tyler Sirois (SB 1466, HB 65)…
At the same time, Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia of Orlando has introduced HB 9233, which would provide a $10 million appropriation for Florida to build a new multiuser launch pad at Cape Canaveral. Space Florida, the state’s space business development agency, has talked about the need for a launch pad that could be leased on a per-launch basis by companies that don’t have their own launch facilities, as SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and others do.