Capitalism in space: NASA officials revealed yesterday that it will not allow any Starship/Superheavy launches at SpaceX’s new Florida launchpad, at least for the moment, because of the threat a launchpad failure might have on the launchpad SpaceX uses to launch manned Falcon 9 missions to ISS.
The NASA statement said the agency “is responsible for ensuring SpaceX remains compliant with the requirements of the property agreement for the use of Launch Complex 39A.”
“These requirements include those related to construction, safety and environmental conditions,” the statement said. “At this time, NASA has only provided approval to build. Additional review for hazards, operational impacts and supportability will be required prior to a launch.”
The new Starship launchpad is 1,000 feet away from pad 39A, which is SpaceX’s manned Dragon launchpad. NASA management thinks this is too close. However, the managers have also not ruled out future launches, only that they wish to do a thorough review of the issue with SpaceX.
Because NASA and the federal government is also relying on Starship to land its astronauts on the Moon, it can’t block Starship flights outright. It could be however that this issue might shift Starship operations back to Boca Chica, after federal government opposition there forced SpaceX to shift more operations to Florida.
In other words, the government wants its cake and eat it to. Some factions within the Biden administration and the Washington bureaucracy want to block Starship, others want it to fly. The result is a tug-of war, with SpaceX in the middle.
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