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Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
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Musk: Starship orbital flight could happen as soon as next month

Capitalism in space: Elon Musk today announced that SpaceX will be ready to launch the first orbital flight of Starship as soon as one month from now.

“If all goes well, Starship will be ready for its first orbital launch attempt next month, pending regulatory approval,” Musk tweeted today [emphasis mine]

Musk’s tweet came one day after the FAA completed its public hearings on its environment reassessment of SpaceX’s operations in Boca Chica. Before the agency can approve that reassessment it has to digest the comments, then to hold an “industry workshop” on this reassessment.

Thus, while SpaceX is ready to go, our lumbering, oppressive government is not. As I’ve written before, I fully expect there to be pressure from the Biden administration and NASA to slow walk that government approval so that Starship does not launch before February 2022, when SLS is now scheduled for its first launch. Having SpaceX get its heavy lift rocket into orbit before NASA would be very embarrassing, considering that SpaceX has spent about a third the time and about a tenth the money getting it done.

I hope I am wrong, but this is what I expect from the corrupt federal government we now have.

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37 comments

  • Jeff Wright

    Biden doesn’t care enough about space to help or hinder things-being too busy having Sonderkommandos roll up our sleeves.

  • Icepilot

    I think Elon has gotten a little more circumspect wrt Federal Regulatory agencies, but when he’s ready to launch, I’ll wager he’s not bashful about saying so. Loudly.

  • Ray Van Dune

    “… SpaceX has spent about a third the time and about a tenth the money getting it done.”

    SpaceX might also have overlooked the required 10% for the Big Guy.

  • Call Me Ishmael

    OK, I’ve waited long enough; typo alert:

    “… Starship does not launch before February 2021”

  • Shallow Minded Reader

    @ Ray No question about it.

  • There’s a required legal process. The FAA is following it. There’s no evidence the agency is slow walking it, or that the Biden Administration has put any pressure to do so.

  • David Eastman

    My guess a couple months ago was for a late November attempt, as late October/early November seemed the earliest possible timing for regulatory approval. I assumed SpaceX would have no issue being ready for the attempt before then, as they were earlier targeting as early as July. Since SpaceX is not currently ready in October, I’d be curious to know if that July goal was completely unachievable, or if they just changed their approach since their own internal readiness was not going to be the limiting factor. Probably a mix of both.

    There were some recently released public documents that NASA will be assisting with photography and such of an orbital re-entry attempt in the March/April timeframe. Of course, nothing in those documents specifies whether that will be the first attempt or not.

  • George C

    Is SpaceX really that fast? Saturn V took about 7 years from concept on paper with slide rule estimates to first flights? For SpaceX about the same with much fewer people of course but in 50 years the off the shelf engineering tools have gotten better. Also people can learn from everything that was done by the US and Soviet programs to have the wisdom to make good decisions. For example using the same engine for both first and second stages and avoiding H2 fuel, not making combustion chamber too big. Using digital signal processing and computing only instead of dealing with a mix.

    SLS, well it just isn’t a labor of love, more like a live of labor. I still believe they want to fly it just so they can shut it down. I don’t see how they benefit by beating starship to first flight.

    I see more drama in those BE4 engines. Two launch systems depending on those and the potential for some very unhappy customers left without a ride.

  • Ray Van Dune

    “Saturn V took about 7 years from concept on paper with slide rule estimates to first flights?

    Superheavy may blow up, but it will do it in less than 7 years!

  • Questioner

    I am looking forward to. The attempt to launch the spaceship will be the greatest spectacle of the decade!

    D. Messier: Why do you always defend the left regime? Because you are a leftist yourself?

  • Shallow Minded Reader

    Quote Questioner “D. Messier: Why do you always defend the left regime? Because you are a leftist yourself?”. I don’t recall Doug having anything positive to say about Elon. Maybe I blinked and missed it.

  • Lee Stevenson

    I am scratching my head … Quote…

    ” There’s a required legal process. The FAA is following it. There’s no evidence the agency is slow walking it, or that the Biden Administration has put any pressure to do so”

    Quote “Why do you always defend the left regime? Because you are a leftist yourself?”

    As a leftist myself, why on earth would anyone consider the first statement ( which is either true, or untrue.. I’m leaning towards true, but I am happy to be proven wrong ) to be either left or right??

    This place has become a very “us” or “them” forum in the last few years…. I come for the space stuff, I get aggravated by some of the political discourse, even though I agree with some points raised. I am neither black nor white in colour or politics…

    It is unfortunate that 99% of forum posters here are so right wing that they cannot see any other view as having any merit or validity…. Any dissenting viewpoint is immediately slammed as “leftist”… Which shouldn’t be a slur… You guys are “rightist” , there is without a doubt a worryingly growing trend of what I would call “the loony left”, but you guys have to leave a space in your political mentality for those of us who are not all about toppling statues, black listing scholars, and suppression of freedom of speech…..

    But ARE about workers rights, general healthcare, taxation of the rich to support social welfare for the poor, housing benefits, sexual health education and help…. To put it simply, to create an environment where everyone has access to to the help they need to grow and to thrive.

    To thrive and to grow means that more tax dollars are created by the wealthy to help more people thrive and grow. Ad infinitum.

    It’s not rocket science, it’s not communism, its by no means loony left cancel culture, it’s my left wing politics.

    Quote “Let the words never be erased, neither the great deeds done by man!” ..

  • Questioner

    Lee Stevenson:

    I think it’s good that this blog is not only about space, but also about the political situation in the world. The second topic is even more interesting to me than the first, even though I was trained in it.

    The prevailing political trend and elite in the West today is far left. This left wing elite is about to destroy everything we love. I don’t need to list that here in detail, because it was shown using many examples. It needs a resistance and I think it is very good that it is possible – in this blog by Mr. Zimmerman – to formulate counter-positions against mainstream leftism.

    Perhaps you have already noticed that the working class is no longer the revolutionary subject of today’s dominant leftism. The left is no longer concerned with ownership of the means of production; today the left has other approaches. Please study the critical theory of Adorno and Horkheimer (Frankfurt School). Then you understand me. Your old leftism, based on the opposition between capitalist and worker, has died out. Some words about the most important difference between left and right:

    The political right embraces the idea that mankind is and sought to be unequal that is to say differentiated: men are different form women, adults are different from children, the wise are different from the foolish, the smart are different from the stupid, the strong are different from weak, the beautiful are different from the ugly, and so forth.

    These are all the natural conditions and differences that the left slandered as a social construction and wants to eliminate through political power, which of course can only lead to blatant undesirable developments.

    Humans are also differentiated by ancestry, history, language, religion, nation, tribe and culture. These differences matter and because they matter all of life is governed by real hierarchies of fact and values, not by the chimera of equality.

    The right rejects egalitarianism root and branch. Every traditional society known to man is inegalitarian. However, all forms of traditional society have been destroyed or are in the process of being destroyed by modern leftist egalitarian mass society.

  • Mike Borgelt

    A now deceased cousin of my wife’s once said that people accused him of “right wing views” (this was New Zealand) he used to reply that he called them “common sense”.
    The right works on free exchange. The left by holding a gun to your head, something that is not allowed in any society on an individual level but is OK with leftists if the government does it.

  • D. Messier

    Claim: FAA is slow walking the approval!

    Question: Where’s the evidence?

    Response: How can you ask me that? You must be evil!

    This isn’t a forum, it’s a echo chamber…ber…ber..ber…

  • Edward

    George C wrote: “Is SpaceX really that fast? Saturn V took about 7 years from concept on paper with slide rule estimates to first flights? For SpaceX about the same with much fewer people of course but in 50 years the off the shelf engineering tools have gotten better.

    This is the difference between today’s aerospace industry and the one we had half a century ago. We used to have rapid development, but today Congress funded Dragon and Starliner into a slow-walk development, taking three or so years longer than originally planned. Money originally requested for Commercial Crew was shifted to SLS-Orion. Boeing, SpaceX, and other newspace companies have been working on returning to the rapid development paradigm of the 1960s.

    The engineering tools may be better, but Starship is attempting to do things that five years ago seemed wild and irresponsible. Saturn-Apollo also had wild ideas, such as lunar orbit rendezvous, and until Mercury-Atlas and Gemini, we didn’t know how to do any of the things necessary to go to the Moon and walk around for a while. Ideas were tested and hardware and processes developed that went beyond walking on the Moon. The Apollo Applications Program would go beyond the lunar landing goal and develop hardware and processes for more complete exploration of Earth orbit and the rest of the solar system.

    Saturn had been on the drawing boards even before Kennedy had asked Congress to go to the Moon, and five years after that request the first Saturn V launched. Starship was first announced just over five years ago, an overall design finalized four years ago, and its first launch now seems imminent.

    Today we would be lucky to get man to the Moon by 2024, a whole 20 years after the goal was set. Again. Using existing hardware. Congress and NASA should be embarrassed by the length of time and the high cost it is taking to do such a repeat. The can-do spirit is sparse inside NASA and the U.S. government, but this spirit lives on inside several commercial companies.

    D. Messier wrote: “Claim: FAA is slow walking the approval!” Present tense.

    Actual claim: “As I’ve written before, I fully expect there to be pressure from the Biden administration and NASA to slow walk that government approval so that Starship does not launch before February 2021, when SLS is now scheduled for its first launch.” Future tense.

    Since the slow-walking is not yet present, there is not yet evidence. It is only an expectation, so far.

    Many times I use the word “expect” in order to express what I believe may happen in the future. Now I see that such expectations are misinterpreted as claims that they already happen or exist — for which I have no evidence, as I already admitted that they do not and will not until the future.

    Is this similar to being offended by something that did not happen? Is this what our schools teach, these days? To routinely be offended over nothing? To declare a discussion of varying ideas to be an echo chamber but not a unified reaction by students pretending to be offended in order to fit in with the rest of the school?
    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/points-of-information/todays-blacklisted-american-teacher-suspended-for-criticizing-students-for-being-offended-over-nothing/

  • Why is the FAA just now getting this done? It’s not like the change to this spaceport supporting Starship operations just sprung up yesterday.

    The FAA is supervised by an Administration who wants us to believe that government can ALWAYS do it better. Starship beating SLS into space would be dramatic proof to the contrary.

    And the fact that activists have been recently involved in goading the FAA to do this assessment now, smells. Like wetlands-management fundamentalism. Like the Delta smelt and its water needs. Like the mismanagement of California forests. Consider that the political calculators of the Administration already have shown a penchant for outsourcing their dirty work, from censorship via Big Tech, to WuFlu mandates via employers.

    But in this case, the question is whether they will allow the activists to prevail and totally obstruct Starship operations, or are they merely using the activists as useful idiots to force a delay so SLS launches first … or are they on the up-and-up?

    I wouldn’t put it past them to go down any of those paths. I hope it is the last.

    ***********
    The reason this forum may sound like an echo chamber, is because the default viewpoint of our social technocracies is biased towards the top-down management characteristic of the Progressive Left, and away from the respect for individual liberty that grew this nation and Western civilization to the point we could sustain a technocracy – in the short term.

    This isn’t an echo chamber, as much as it is a group of people warning our neighbors that we are blindly heading for decline if we simply continue to accept that default position as benign … simply The Way Things Are and beyond the need to question.

    Like your list of issues, Lee …

    But ARE about workers rights, general healthcare, taxation of the rich to support social welfare for the poor, housing benefits, sexual health education and help…. To put it simply, to create an environment where everyone has access to to the help they need to grow and to thrive.

    Behind that list, is a fundamental flaw: the belief that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves. We keep looking to higher levels of government as the caregivers of first resort, when their operatives simply lack the perception, insight, and immunity to political pressure to look into EACH individual’s situation and reliably deliver the help they really need.

    I do believe that we need to help each other – LOCALLY. Where the caregivers are in a better position to understand that individual and get them the help they need – and are less likely to stay stuck on stupid, because they will have to depend upon local support and not the Federal printing press and bond authority to prop them up.

    And I also understand that taxation of the rich imposes a cost upon us all … which is missed by those who give short shrift to the value of profit as “greed” and the productivity it is derived from, that leads to improvements in our way of life that are far closer to what people need than some committee’s Five Year Plan. Taxing the rich too much, believing that their profit is not that important to sustain, ends up stunting the growth you seek …

    … as does the entire top-down approach, because it encourages complacency in ordinary people, such that they put Flounderian levels of trust in their government, employers, unions and other institutions to sustain the good times with little/no effort of their own … instead of doing what it takes to assure they, at the least, are in a position to work around the errors and self-serving actions of those institutions to keep going to better lives.

    And this top-down approach, where the elite few are assumed to Know Better™, has opened the door to the suppression of speech and blacklisting that is rightly decried.

    What we are responding to, as “right wingers”, is the refusal of those on the Left to question their paradigm at a fundamental level, and assume it is the default position even though it is corrosive to individual liberty and personal (not collective) responsibility …. because without respect for the former and the expectation of the latter, there is only dominance and submission – neither freedom nor unity – pushing us towards the ruins of Utopia.

  • Edward

    Jester Naybor wrote: “Taxing the rich too much, believing that their profit is not that important to sustain, ends up stunting the growth you seek

    Profit is the reward for finding better efficiencies over the competition. Fewer resources are needed to produce the desired results, leaving more resources available for additional production and additional prosperity. Profit is why free market capitalist systems succeed so well at bringing people out of poverty, and the lack of profit in Marxist systems is why those systems succeed so well at keeping people in poverty — there is no reward for creating prosperity.

  • Jeff Wright

    Profit above all things is what got Boeing is in trouble.

    Reagan’s blanket amnesty…bi-partisan off-shoring of jobs turning us into a service economy that Covid Karen’s shut down. The anti-labor just-in-time warehouse free nonsense that is killing us now…Green refs’ and libertarians also against infrastructure….ideology is wrecking this nation.

    ENOUGH

  • Jeff … it is a lack of respect for individual liberty, combined with a lack of acceptance of personal responsibility, that has been wrecking this nation for a century.

    Had the American worker kept the responsibility for watching out for their own interest … instead of outsourcing it in blind faith to government and union to protect their interest while they punched in, did only what they were told, and punched out … many of those jobs would not have left, for they would have seen that it is in their interest to do more than the minimum for their employers, even if the rewards for doing so were not immediate. I’ve lived this in my own career in American manufacturing,

    We have had a great advantage over worker-bee authoritarian nations like China in terms of economic performance: the freedom to apply our common sense and proximity/consequence-informed insight to tasks big and small, risking only temporary failure as opposed to having the heavy hand of authority come down on you and yours for not simply doing what you’re told. We have squandered that advantage, in our outsourcing of that application to the elite few as though only they have all the answers, and set the precedent for that heavy hand to come down on us for not doing what we’re told in society at large.

    Part of the drive to JIT, is the way we tax inventory in this nation. Though I do agree that the pendulum on that has swung too far to be prudent – for inventory allows you to work around supply-chain disruptions in the short term. Much like offshoring so much business to a nation with aspirations for totalitarian expansionism is not prudent.

    And I have no problem with infrastructure – actual infrastructure, not “job-creating” boondoggles that politicians use to justify their continued authority. Infrastructure that is implemented and maintained by the appropriate level of government, not kept at the Federal level because it has the deepest pockets. Infrastructure that actually makes sense and furthers our ability, as individuals, to live free and pursue happiness.

  • pawn

    Bravo folks, I think this is the most in-depth discussion of the issues I’ve seen on these here interwebs without resorting to call into question anybody’s ancestry or choice of lifestyle.

    But sadly, no one is persuaded, no one convincing. To what end is all this discussion? What is the point of politicizing everything?

    Elon is going to launch it. What happens then Mother Nature will decide. People will make noise either way. Money will flow.

  • John

    There’s a legal process in place and the FAA is following it. What is that process, and are the boxes that have to be checked the same for all? Are they checking boxes at the same rate for all? The problem many have with this country now is that the rule of law no longer applies equally to all.

    A corollary to the question is if the FAA legal process can or should apply to a company that wants to get something done in a reasonable amount of time. Maybe the process is OK for a launch next year but unsuitable for a company that is going to rapid prototype and probably lose many of the prototypes.

  • Gary H

    “Claim: FAA is slow walking the approval!

    Question: Where’s the evidence?

    Response: How can you ask me that? You must be evil!

    This isn’t a forum, it’s a echo chamber…ber…ber..ber…”

    Slow walking is what government does. They also do over-budget walking, pet-project walking and propaganda-walking. These activities extend way beyond Musk, but it is possible that there is a bit of “pet-project” favoritism in play….

  • pawn What is the point of politicizing everything?

    Ask those who insist that government ALWAYS does it better, and therefore insist that the private sector subordinate its conduct to government diktat as though government is omniscient, infallible, and above corruption.

    What is politicizing this, is government imposing its ever-changing definition of the “common good” over its legitimate purpose: securing life and liberty. Without that legitimate purpose prioritized above ANY other common good, the government/citizen relationship inevitably gravitates towards dominance/submission.

  • PR

    I love SpaceX and fully support what they are doing in Boca Chica. But let’s be honest about what’s going on.

    I’ve been to that beach many times and I’m absolutely certain that there is no way SpaceX can achieve what they want to achieve there without fundamentally changing the place. That is partly good. The place was dirt poor. And it’s partly bad. Many not too well off people had found affordable places of peace and solitude in South Texas. And they are going to lose that. .When I was there, people were enthusiastic but also worried they would lose the natural beauty of the place.. And again let’s be honest. They will. That may be the cost of change but it will happen. What we saw at that hearing ( in addition to all the internet people who never have and never will go there) was also at least some locals both realizing the benefits that SpaceX has brought their area and the price they are going to pay for it. Those people all deserve the opportunity to express themselves on this issue. That’s what freedom of speech and democracy are supposed to be about.

    When SpaceX went through the initial environmental assessment they said they would conduct a limited number of falcon 9 launches. They may have said a couple of falcon heavy launches as well. Now they want to launch the biggest rocket ever created on a regular basis from the site and turn it into the earth’s first true spaceport. Let’s hope they do it. But that’s not the same as the license they acquired. That’s why they are being required to go through this process. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s not Biden, and it’s not leftest devils. It’s the normal bureaucracy.

    Is it about power? Well, maybe, but not, I suspect in the simplistic good man vs evil government dialectic we see displayed in this forum. When he got the initial launch license and applied for the environmental assessment, Elon probably intentionally downplayed the company’s hopes for the site or maybe he had no idea. ( But has anybody ever noticed Elon Musk being shortsighted) The company probably calculated that asking for the minimum would be easier than spilling the beans in the beginning and hoping for the best. I am 100% for them eventually getting the go ahead. But what he is asking for today is not even remotely close to what he applied for in the beginning. He then tried to push them into just caving and pretending the license was still valid for this activity when both regulators and Elon knew that wasn’t the case. So, yeah someone at the FAA probably decided to prove the point.

    The FAA made the right move by having public hearings. But again, let’s be honest. If this were an airport and they built a small runway and then wanted to land the world’s largest jetliners, the FAA would just insist on another full scale environmental review. No special hearings or expedited process. That they have merely held a hearing and will now decide if a full review is warranted is an accommodation to SpaceX not some special medieval torture thought up by the lefties to punish the capitalist white knights.. They are actually being kinder to him than they would be to any other business.

    Let’s hope that they don’t ask for the full review. But if they do, it will be because SpaceX didn’t dish on their plans from the beginning as they should have. And as for the power issue. Elon himself isn’t always Mr. eccentric nice guy. When he has the power and advantage, he uses it. Think about some of those people in houses in boca chica village whose lives have been taken over by SpaceX. Elon still won’t pony up decent settlements for those people. The company even threatened to have the courts use imminent domain to take their homes. What kind of power dynamic is that?

  • PR

    To clarify one point above: most likely the FAA people had a committee meeting and someone pointed out that SpaceX activities far exceeded the initial review, that SpaceX doing what SpaceX does, things (like, the biggest rocket in the history of rockets) was eventually going to explode and with workers, people’s homes and spectators nearby, somebody might get killed. The rest of the government would then be investigating the FAA and asking why they hadn’t intervened. So I don’t think it’s just proving a point to SpaceX as much as it is covering their own behinds. Though the reason for the hearing is completely valid -SpaceX (God bless’em) are engaged in activities not covered under the initial assessment.

  • Questioner

    PR:

    Good detailed comment, thanks. It’s good that you also mentioned the power aspect and the destruction of the life plans of the former residents, which Musk has ousted with relative violence.

    I was actually wondering if this south Texas location – because of its relative proximity to the nearest community – is really ideal for Elon Musk’s goals. Isn’t there an offshore island on this coast that was used for military purposes in the past and yet would be more suitable? At least when it comes to security issues.

    I am also bothered by the proximity of the orbital tank farm to the launch and landing tower in Boca Chica.

  • Questioner

    Correction: replace “security” by “safety”.

  • Richard M

    I agree completely with this paragraph by PR:

    I’ve been to that beach many times and I’m absolutely certain that there is no way SpaceX can achieve what they want to achieve there without fundamentally changing the place. That is partly good. The place was dirt poor. And it’s partly bad. Many not too well off people had found affordable places of peace and solitude in South Texas. And they are going to lose that. .When I was there, people were enthusiastic but also worried they would lose the natural beauty of the place.. And again let’s be honest. They will. That may be the cost of change but it will happen. What we saw at that hearing ( in addition to all the internet people who never have and never will go there) was also at least some locals both realizing the benefits that SpaceX has brought their area and the price they are going to pay for it. Those people all deserve the opportunity to express themselves on this issue. That’s what freedom of speech and democracy are supposed to be about.

    I *also * agree that SpaceX has not been fully forthcoming about its plans in its submission, especially as regards that power plant they’ll need. (Mainly, I suspect, because SpaceX is moving so quickly that they’re still figuring it all out themselves.) But I also think this should not be a deal breaker for FAA, whose oversight authority is more limited than is that of the EPA or TCEQ. These are questions that will have to be sorted out, but I don’t think it’s the FAA’s job to do the sorting, at least for the limited program of activity that SpaceX is formally petitioning to do.

    All the vibes I get from the process suggest to me that SpaceX is going to end up with a FONSI, and by the end of the year.

  • Doubting Thomas

    This is why I stated, several months ago, that I wondered if Elon had made a tactical mistake not just taking a pad at the Cape and modifying it. The Cape is almost surrounded by a USG sanctioned wildlife preserve, already has launch corridors that are approved for flight and people already accept that the Cape will produce loud noises from time to time. He would not have the ability to remake the Cape in his vision of a space port.

    At the time I wrote that, lots of people disagreed, I’m sure they still do. Here is hoping that Richard M is correct in his post.

  • Richard M

    “He would not have the ability to remake the Cape in his vision of a space port.”

    Which is probably a big reason why he didn’t.

    That said, though, it would be interesting to know what the decision process was like, since Elon *did* initiate some Starship acivity at the Cape early on – the beginnings of a launch pad for Starship at LC-29A, and an initial Starship fabrication facility, too. Clearly they were looking at using the Cape, early on. But both sites were essentially abandoned for Starship activity by 2019 and focus shifted completely to Boca Chica.

    But I suspect a lot of the future remains fluid for where Starship operates, judging by Elon’s comments to Tim Dodd in that 3-part interview from July. I’m not sure he really knows where all this is going to happen 5, 10 years from now. If the Brownsville area becomes too expensive or restricted due to regulatory hurdles, he’d surely look hard at the Cape again. But surely his hopes were that Texas would be less likely to be killed by regulatory action or local NIMBY opposition than any other likely coastal launch site he could latch onto. I’m not sure it was an unreasonable bet.

  • Don’t forget the oil rigs. The problem is that blowing them up is expensive. If the mechzilla tower is destroyed, that is expensive. However, if the mechzilla tower _on an oil platform_ is destroyed, that is much, much more expensive.

    In addition to the construction costs, getting the fuel to oil platforms is also expensive. It seems to me that Musk is pursuing a belt-and-braces approach: A land-based space port is much cheaper, so let’s start there. Off-shore is beyond much regulations, so let’s have that as a backup plan. If he can drive down other costs sufficiently, the “excess” cost of getting all the fuel out there will still leave him as the cheapest launch provider.

    As for left vs right – keep in mind that they don’t mean the same thing in America that they mean elsewhere; particularly “right”. Jester said it better than I could. I agree that there should be some sort of “safety net”, but we are SO FAR beyond that that it is straw-man argument. Only the environment loonies – not the “right” – are arguing for a return to nature, red in tooth and claw.

    As for the politics on this blog, we are at a point where any all means should be used to pushback against Left. My favorite part of this blog is the Mars pictures and analysis; politics are definitely secondary. However, someone needs to stand up and say “enough”. I’m pleased Mr. Zimmerman is doing so.

    Note that the distrust of government’s intent – in the future tense with no evidence – is, in itself, a huge warning sign that there is a problem with the US political system.

  • Edward

    PR wrote: “Many not too well off people had found affordable places of peace and solitude in South Texas. And they are going to lose that.

    I know! They may finally have jobs that will make them well-off people, losing their not-too-well-offs status.

    When I was there, people were enthusiastic but also worried they would lose the natural beauty of the place.. And again let’s be honest. They will.

    Didn’t they lose that when some selfish people built houses in that area? Let’s be honest, isn’t this whole argument just another “not in my back yard” (NIMBY) argument?

    By the way, Kennedy Space Center (KSC) became the “first true spaceport” in the 1980s, when NASA first started landing the Space Shuttle at the launch site.

    That’s why they are being required to go through this process.

    The claim is not that it is bad to have a process but that it is bad to use that process to delay a cherry picked company or project. The original launch license was for Falcons, but that was way back before they had even settled on a real design for Starship. Even in 2017, As Robert likes to phrase it, Starship was pretty much just a Power Point presentation. As time passed, it became clear that Boca Chica would not be needed for Falcon launches and that KSC would not be a good site for Starship development testing. Conditions didn’t develop as expected, and plans changed.

    So much is being argued here without historical context.

    Why was the licensing process started this past summer instead of last year? Most likely because 1) SpaceX expected to perform more Starship testing but learned far more far faster than expected, as evidenced by the number of test articles that were scheduled, under construction, then cancelled, and 2) SpaceX probably didn’t have their plan finalized earlier, likely due to reason 1), above.

    Questioner replied to PR: “It’s good that you also mentioned the power aspect and the destruction of the life plans of the former residents, which Musk has ousted with relative violence.

    Except that several residents did not choose to take the generous (non-relative-violent) offer by SpaceX and remain in place. The safety of these residents is one of the aspects of the environmental review.

    I am also bothered by the proximity of the orbital tank farm to the launch and landing tower in Boca Chica.

    I think that we have learned more about the limits of an exploding fully-fueled rocket, since the 1960s. Rockets do not explode like oversized firecrackers but burst and burn like ruptured fuel tanks. The real question is whether the heat of the fire would damage the outer shell of the tank farm.

  • Doubting Thomas

    I want to chime in also about the accusation that “former residents, [were]….ousted with relative violence.” I am not aware of violence against any Boca Chica Village resident. Musk offered far more to each resident than market values at the time and never at eminent domain type values. I was told, by one former resident, while we were vacationing in Galveston, that in fact Musk offered a real estate service to help residents find places that they wanted.

    As further evidence, Mary, AKA Boca Chica Gal, seems to have made a nice secondary career being the videographer for SpaceX goings on. I am always fascinated by her video both on her own site and when used by other space commentators and YouTuber’s.

    As another aside – I agree with others that have in effect said – ” Musk didn’t lie when he started Boca Chica, conditions and technical vision changed/developed” . I wonder if Musk has not ended up creating additional problems for himself with such a relatively small footprint for launch capability. I think he wants to fly additional Starship only suborbitals but is stymied by the fact that the suborbital pads are in the midst of the construction going on to make orbital Heavy/Ship flight possible.

    While I applaud his audacious plans for snagging boosters and ships at the tower, one developmental problem has the capability of wiping out a sizable chunk of difficult to replace tower, tank farm, etc. Looking at all the activity, he has to be spending money like Congress right now.

  • D. Messier

    John wrote:

    > There’s a legal process in place and the FAA is following it. What is that process, and are the boxes that have to be checked the same for all? Are they checking boxes at the same rate for all?

    > A corollary to the question is if the FAA legal process can or should apply to a company that wants to get something done in a reasonable amount of time. Maybe the process is OK for a launch next year but unsuitable for a company that is going to rapid prototype and probably lose many of the prototypes.

    Excellent questions, John. There has been a mountain of bytes written about what the FAA is doing, the process involved and why they’re doing another environmental review. It’s just a Google search away. Maybe you should educate yourself about it.

    Gary H wrote:

    > Slow walking is what government does. They also do over-budget walking, pet-project walking and propaganda-walking. These activities extend way beyond Musk, but it is possible that there is a bit of “pet-project” favoritism in play….

    Any evidence they’re doing it in this case? Anything? Other than rhetorical claims? Historically, they approved the Boca Chica site in 2014, and have signed off on all the changes SpaceX has made so far. And FAA chose the path of least resistance — an environmental assessment — over redoing the environmental impact statement. So, where’s the evidence that FAA and the Biden Administration has slow walking or will slow walk this process?

  • D. Messier is absolutely correct that there is as yet no evidence of the FAA slow-walking this approval process.

    That however doesn’t change the reality that our present federal government, no matter who is in charge, has shown ample evidence in recent years that it cannot be trusted. To accept their actions without question is to be naive and vulnerable to their abuse.

    By simply raising the question that they might and can do this, it is my hope that they won’t, out of fear of public outrage.

    I made this point I think far better in my Space Show appearance on Monday. I intend to post a link to the podcast shortly.

  • sippin_bourbon

    The problem that I have with this argument is the “yet” part of the argument for evidence.

    If the Biden-Harris Admin is doing anything, it is not going to be in view of the public. That is not how they work.

    If you need evidence of how they behave, look at the back door collusion to get concerned parents maligned as terrorists at school board meetings. If there is action being taken, it is via email like this, or off site meetings, colluding with the environmentalist orgs that are challenging SpaceX in Boca Chica.

    None of this really became an issue until after the election.

    Do I really think that Biden-Harris wants to shutdown SpaceX? No.
    That would be an unpopular choice with younger voters.

    But I do think they want to shutdown Elon Musk, because he also owns the fastest growing auto company, and it is NOT a union shop. Pressure on SpaceX is simply an avenue of attack.

    Do I think they would like SpaceX to move out of Texas? Yes.
    It has the potential for incredible growth in a State that the Biden-Harris party would like to desperately flip in their favor.
    If this pressure gets them to move to FL or CA, they would be happy with that.
    If a new commercial industry suddenly boomed here, it may put it out of Democrat reach for 20 years.

    But is there open evidence that Biden-Harris is coordinating this? No, not yet.
    But just like the case of parents confronting school boards, all it takes is one little email leak.

    So I will keep an open mind, and consider it likely that they are involved.

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