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FAA: No Starship/Superheavy launch until we say so!

We’re here to help you! The FAA yesterday stated in no uncertain terms that there will be no additional orbital test launches of SpaceX’s Starship/Superheavy until it has decided the launch will be safe.

The FAA, which is overseeing an investigation into the April 20 launch, said Wednesday it was still awaiting the report it needs to identify corrective actions SpaceX must take to get the OK to launch again from Boca Chica.

An FAA spokesperson declined to speculate when the agency’s investigation might be completed, saying that “public safety and actions yet to be taken by SpaceX will dictate the timeline.”

“The FAA will not allow a return to flight operations until it determines that any system, process, or procedure related to the mishap does not affect public safety or any other aspect of the operator’s license,” the spokesperson said. “The mishap investigation is ongoing.”

The implication that the FAA is awaiting completion of SpaceX’s own investigation sounds like an attempt to shift the blame for the delay from the government to SpaceX, even though the company has made it very evident in words and deeds that it is moving quickly and will be ready to launch in August.

This threat of a delay is hardly a surprise. I predicted in late April that the federal bureaucracy is targeting SpaceX, and by late May predicted the the FAA would block this August launch attempt.

It is also important to underline the fact that there is absolutely no one at the FAA capable of or knowledgeable enough to competently assess the safety of the next launch. The only people who can really do that are the engineers at SpaceX. All the FAA can do is reject SpaceX’s investigation — for political reasons — and demand SpaceX take additional actions, based merely on random guesses as to what needs to be done. And it can keep doing this repeatedly.

This launch is likely to be delayed many months. You heard it here first.

Genesis cover

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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  • Ken

    Move Starship to an island?

  • Ken: I repost the following comment every time someone raises the question of SpaceX fleeing the U.S.:

    Why is it the first reaction of so many people when I post stories like this is to suggest that Elon Musk flee, to run away? Not only can’t he do it (both for legal and practical reasons), it is the worst possibly reaction to this government overreach.

    It is time all Americans stopped running. There really is no where else to go. We need to stand and fight, and force the government and its intolerant minions to back down. Otherwise, freedom will continue to lose ground everywhere.

    I expect Musk to fight, as he has fought and won previously.

    As for moving:

    1. Legally he can’t. SpaceX as a rocket company falls until strict federal regulations. No matter where he moves those regulations will apply, especially because much of his work force and materials will come from the U.S.

    2. Practically he can’t. The qualified workers and infrastructure doesn’t exist in these other locations. You can’t simply recreate this kind of hi-tech company in South Africa, in Mexico, or any other third world country.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Has SpaceX released a report on the first test flight, including what corrective actions are required and undertaken?

    To refer to the outcome of the first test flight as “the mishap” seems a bit weird! Is the Boeing Starliner being held to the same process?

  • Tony

    Elon Musk should hire Hunter Biden as a rocket consultant. Ten percent to the big guy will get the FAA off his back.

  • Michael

    One thought that crosses my mind is that while this is a Grand Adventure all is not sweetness and light.

    Starbase and its trappings is not cheap. While Elon I am sure has sunk a lot of money into the operation he still has need of infusion for a great deal of cash from others. I would think that these outside investors are by nature rich and powerful.

    If SpaceX/Starbase gets shutdown or otherwise interfered with these individuals stand to loose a great deal of money. In addition I also believe they have factored in future power and profits on their investment which would not materialize….which in my opinion will be huge (as an example think Rockefeller in the early 20th century).

    These folks are not to be trifled with and are used to getting their way. I cannot see them just standing around and saying “gosh”. Then there is Elon and his antics…..people laugh but the funny thing is that generally he has a plan the blindsides folks.

    Anyway I would think this is not a one-sided struggle of Elon against government forces without powerful and self-interested allies. Maybe things will workout.

  • David K

    It will fly again January 21st 2025 assuming someone other than Biden takes office. I like Vivek Ramaswamy as he is a scientist, but literally anyone would be preferable.

  • TallDave

    if you want Starship to fly, vote Republican

  • Col Beausabre

    Remember that the people who are attracted to work at a regulatory agency want – no, need, to regulate. They are convinced that without their benevolent “guidance” terrible things will happen so they MUST take charge for the public good. They and ONLY they know the correct path. Think of the sort of people who join the naderite “PIRG’s” – they are convinced that society is going the wrong way and needs urgent correction. They know better thn the unwashed masses

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