The FAA has now had to delay the final approval of its environmental reassessment of SpaceX’s Starship facility and operations at Boca Chica for at least one month because NOAA has refused to approve the plan.
That puts NOAA’s generic review of Rocket Landing and Launches back to at least the end of January, with the much more complex and contentious USFWS [Fish and Wildlife] review also pending (this one is habitat and species review of impacts to bird and wildlife populations specific to Boca Chica).
The earliest approval by the FAA (which again, is far from a sure thing) should be projected into February. And the actual launch license process can’t be started until then. March is absolutely the earliest even the giddiest optimist could expect for Starship’s Maiden Orbital Flight.
It appears that the bureaucrats in NOAA are hostile to the launch site, and are looking for reasons, mostly environmental, to either block it or slow it down.
It also appears that a second Department of the Interior agency must sign off, and it is also hostile.
Based on this story, it looks like Starship’s first orbital flight will not happen until the latter half of ’22, if then. Nor can we expect any help from the Biden administration. Unlike Trump, the Democrats now running the executive branch of government do not like private enterprise and business, and generally look for excuses to regulate and even block it, especially if they think there is the slightest chance it might harm some formerly unknown species somewhere.
This is America today, no longer free. Rather than you making the decision freely, as an American citizen, un-elected federal government officials now decide whether you can do anything, or not.
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