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SpaceX files to join FAA as defendant in lawsuit trying to shut down Boca Chica

SpaceX on May 19, 2023 submitted a motion to become a defendant in the lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and others that demands its Starship/Superheavy launchsite at Boca Chica be shut down.

“SpaceX’s Starship/Super Heavy launch program hinges on the FAA’s review and licensing decision challenged here. If the Court were to rule in Plaintiffs’ favor, the FAA’s decision could be set aside, and further licensing of the Starship/Super Heavy Program could be significantly delayed, causing severe injury to SpaceX’s business,” the company said in the motion, which was filed on May 19.

The full motion can be read here [pdf].

SpaceX’s motion notes that it has followed all government regulations in the decade since it established its Boca Chica launch site, and invested more than $3 billion in doing so. The motion points out that “the FAA does not adequately represent SpaceX’s interests” and that the company must participate because the lawsuit will have direct financial impact on its business.

In other words, the big guns are now being hauled out against this lawsuit, which on its face is somewhat weak. We shall see if it can withstand the much more aggressive fight that SpaceX is certain to put up.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

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.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • InspiredHistoryMike

    Government Agencies do seem to enjoy being sued now.
    What better way to get money to your friends?
    Punishing your enemies is just a bonus.

  • Max

    It was just announced that Elon musk will appear with DeSantis in Rons announcement Running for president…
    It’ll be interesting to see how this all ties together.

  • James Street

    “Elon musk will appear with DeSantis”

    That’s too bad. DeSantis is swamp. He has the full backing of the swamp: the Bush family, RINO bloggers, Fox news….

  • James Street: Based on what DeSantis has done, I see no evidence that he is a creature controlled by the swamp. Instead, he appears to be a hard-nosed man of principles unafraid of anyone in his effort to do the right thing, for freedom and law and morality.

  • Edward

    From the article:

    “Although no debris was documented on refuge fee-owned lands, staff documented approximately 385 acres of debris on SpaceX’s facility and at Boca Chica State Park, which is leased by the Service and managed as a component of the Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge,” reads a US Fish and Wildlife Service statement from shortly after the launch. “Additionally, a 3.5-acre fire started south of the pad site on Boca Chica State Park land. At this time, no dead birds or wildlife have been found on refuge-owned or managed lands.”

    Essentially, these groups are complaining about a non-problem, a problem that did not happen, despite an unforeseen worst-case scenario (or even a worse-than-anticipated-worst-case scenario). The fire isn’t the first, yet launches were approved despite the occasional brush fire. Heck, even nature causes its own brush fires. Should we revoke nature’s license to operate in the area? Outlaw lightening strikes? Hmm.

  • Robert, as long as DeSantis keeps “saying the quiet parts out loud” he is worthy of support. As is Trump for the same reason. May the best man win.

    My preference? That Trump gets back in the White House, DeSantis stays as governor, and they – along with Kristi Noem, Greg Abbott and others – work together to leverage federalism to move as much power as they can out of occupied DC.

    My fear is that the GOP campaign consultants will pressure DeSantis and/or Trump to stop “saying the quiet parts out loud” and either/both end up up like Scott Walker in 2016. That could result from enough people throwing Trump under the bus because they prefer a fire-and-forget hero to defending the need for his disruptive approach and STQPOL.

  • Edward, you know how they think: the presence of man is the problem. Their cognitive dissonance regarding the origin of lightning strikes never registers with them because of that.

  • Jester Naybor: We are in agreement on all points.

  • Jeff

    Re: Desantis – Robert wrote:
    “I see no evidence that he is a creature controlled by the swamp.”

    As did I at first. I was happy to see the way Florida was pushing back. Then a few months ago I read this:

    Almost everything predicted months ago has come true.

  • Dave Walden

    Jester “gets it!” Proper use of Federalism and the Courts are the only means to stave off – short of proper education (a much longer term solution), what is the inevitable result. The most “uncivil” of acts, civil war……..

  • Edward

    What fun it can be to read what seem to be boring documents. We dan learn so very much about an organization.

    For quite some time, we have been unsure how much of the nearly $10 billion that SpaceX has raised for Starship and for Starlink has gone into each of these projects. We now have a good idea.

    From the document filed for SpaceX’s motion to intervene:

    Since the FAA issued the ROD approving development of the site, SpaceX has invested more than $3 billion into developing the Boca Chica launch facility and Starship/Super Heavy launch system. [Emphasis mine]

    Elsewhere, the filing tells us the beginning date for this amount of expenditure:

    On July 9, 2014, the FAA issued a Record of Decision (“ROD”) to approve SpaceX’s construction and operation of the Boca Chica launch site.

    This does not give us a definitive number, but we now have a lower limit on how much SpaceX has invested in Starship. Since it is in the company’s best interest to give as large a number as possible, we can be fairly sure that SpaceX has not yet invested $4 billion in this project.

    Although this amount also includes the development of infrastructure and ground support, it gives us a better number for comparing the Starship/Super Heavy development with other rocket development projects.

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