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Confirmed: California’s coastal commission is looking for ways to block SpaceX launches at Vandenberg

According to an article yesterday in the Santa Barbara Independent, the California Coastal Commission is aggressively looking for ways it can prevent SpaceX and other commerical rocket companies from increasing the launch pace out of Vandenberg Space Force Base.

When asked how many launches at VSFB benefit the Department of Defense (DOD), Colonel Bryan Titus, vice commander for Space Launch Delta 30, said that 25 percent hold DOD satellites and payloads, but argued that all SpaceX launches support the DOD and its allies.

“I just don’t think that SpaceX should be able to skirt the requirements for a Coastal Development Permit when its clear intent is to conduct primarily for-profit business activity and not federal activity,” said Kristina Kunkel, the Environmental Policy Director of the California State Controller’s Office.

The article confirms what I had speculated last week, that the Coastal Commission wants to find ways to impose its regulatory power over commercial launches inside Vandenberg, expressly to limit or stop those launches.

Side note to my readers: Posting will be light for much of today, as I will be visiting my doctor for a follow-up on my rib injury. Nothing bad has happened, but a follow-up seems wise to make sure things are healing as they should.

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On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

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  • F

    Orange Man Bad

    and now . . .

    Musk Man Bad

  • James Street

    I like the space industry’s response: they didn’t bother to show up to the meeting. The military needs to stand up to and crush these godless commies. But our military is a bunch of sissy bois in high heels and dresses and will capitulate.

  • Rocket J Squirrel

    Well since SpaceX is mixing DoD communication, and in the future imaging, satellites in potentially every launch of Starlink they could say that each flight is a government contract. Because of security reasons they just can’t say anymore than that.

  • Jay

    Rocket J Squirrel has a good idea. If things go poorly for SpaceX at Vandy, they could slip in one StarSheild satellite with every batch of StarLinks and call it a military flight.

  • SamE

    These California bureaucrats have a ton of work from home freedom. I wonder how many works are sitting in the new $500M O Street office building on a typical work day? Must be at least a baker’s dozen. I wonder if Kristina Kunkel (quoted in the article) even lives in California?

  • Edward

    From the article:

    “I just don’t think that SpaceX should be able to skirt the requirements for a Coastal Development Permit when its clear intent is to conduct primarily for-profit business activity and not federal activity,” said Kristina Kunkel, the Environmental Policy Director of the California State Controller’s Office.

    In a nation of We the People, it is good to know that the government considers government activity to be of primary importance and considers that the commerce that gives us our livelihoods and keeps us all fed, alive, and healthy comes last.

    Wait a minute …

    From the very first sentence of the article:

    On April 10, the California Coastal Commission postponed a decision on SpaceX’s proposal to increase launches at Vandenberg Space Force Base (VSFB) from six to 36, and landings to 12 annually.

    So, SpaceX has asked for permission to increase the launch cadence, but somehow Kristina Kunkel sees that as “skirt[ing] the requirements for a Coastal Development Permit” (as though launches are coastal development)? Those bureaucrats in the California State Controller’s Office sure see the world from a different perspective, in their ivory towers. It is so good to know that the government of the people, by the people, for the people, has not perished from the earth.

    It has only perished from California.

  • pzatchok

    If Space X is doing nothing but increasing the number of launches and not actually building any new facilities then I can not see the commission having a leg to stand on.

    The military could build everything needed and loan it to Space X.

  • David K

    If we are really going into world war 3, who do you trust more, the current military industrial complex that can’t even launch to the ISS, or Elon Musk with space lasers and killer robots? I know where my money is.

  • Rocket J Squirrel

    Not just StarShield. Its come out that SpaceX and the NRO are designing imaging satts that look like Starlink comm satts. Right now its easy to figure out when an imaging satt goes overhead and try and plan around it. If you can’t tell well then its a problem.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Does the Commission have a report ready on why the coastal highway recently fell into the sea, and what they are going to do to prevent future impacts like this on development, not to mention life and limb?!

    Viability of coastal highways = your knitting
    Operations at Vandenberg SFB = DoD’s knitting

    Stick to yours.

  • Unclezip

    Absolutely correct, Jay. They love telling us to “stay in your lane”.

  • David Reid Ross

    Jay Johnson (harrumph!) makes a good point, that “military” flights could be coupled with commercial payloads. Because “rideshare” is now possible on Falcon 9:
    If not, SpaceX might simply decide to launch Starships from Florida and North Tamaulipas. Those are the agencies I’m more worried about; California frankly is a rogue state at this point.

  • James Street

    “Elon Musk with space lasers and killer robots”
    – David K

    And, from what I understand, Top Secret Battle Monkeys (but don’t tell anyone)

  • pzatchok

    Battle monkeys and lasers on sharks were my ideas!!!!

    Confound him!!!!!!!!

  • Greg the Geologist

    That the state Controller’s office (a financial watchdog, supposedly) has a bureaucrat with the title of Environmental Policy Director tells you everything that’s wrong here in California. And, to the question above, “why the coastal highway recently fell into the sea”, we all know the answer to that. Of course, Climate Change!

    New bumper sticker idea: “SEN!” (Stop Erosion Now!)

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