SPARKS, Nev. February 8, 2021 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security company owned by Eren and Fatih Ozmen, is a step closer to landing the world’s first commercial spaceplane on U.S. soil. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) awarded the re-entry site license to Cape Canaveral Spaceport Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) in Florida at request of the state’s aerospace economic development agency, making it the first commercially licensed re-entry site. Dream Chaser, America’s Spaceplane®, will service the International Space Station (ISS) under a NASA contract in 2022; the vehicle will return from the ISS to a runway landing for the first time since NASA’s space shuttle program ended in 2011.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has provided more information on SpaceX’s SN8 launch in December and the delay in issuing a license for the SN9 flight conducted yesterday. Basically, the agency says SpaceX proceeded with the December launch without approval, but it is not fining the company for the violation.
FAA Statement on Starship SN8 Launch
Regarding the SpaceX Starship SN8 launch in December 2020, the company proceeded with the launch without demonstrating that the public risk from far field blast overpressure was within the regulatory criteria specified by 14 CFR § 431.35(b)(1)(i).
The FAA required SpaceX to conduct an investigation of the incident, including a comprehensive review of the company’s safety culture, operational decision-making and process discipline. All testing that could affect public safety at the Boca Chica launch site was suspended until the investigation was completed and the FAA approved the company’s corrective actions.
With respect to potential enforcement action, the FAA’s compliance monitoring and enforcement is designed to modify behavior to comply with federal safety regulations. It also has various enforcement tools available to ensure satisfactory public safety results.
The FAA-approved corrective actions implemented by SpaceX enhanced public safety. Those actions were incorporated into today’s SN9 launch. We anticipate taking no further enforcement action on SN8 matter.
SpaceX’s Starship SN9 rocket finally flew from Boca Chica in Texas on Tuesday, reaching an altitude of 10 km (6.2 miles) before pancaking into the ground in a gigantic fireball just like its predecessor, Starship SN8, did back in December.
It appeared that one of two rocket engines that were supposed to fire as the rocket reoriented itself for landing failed to ignite. The rocket then plunged into the ground and exploded.
The build up for this flight was longer than usual because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did not issue a launch license in time for SM9’s planned flight last week.
The FAA issued the launch license late Monday after resolving safety issues. The agency issued the following statement explaining the circumstances behind issuing the license.
Prior to SN8 test launch in December, SpaceX sought a waiver to exceed the maximum public risk allowed by federal safety regulations. After the FAA denied the request, SpaceX proceeded with the flight. As a result of this non-compliance, FAA required SpaceX to conduct an investigation of the incident. All testing that could affect public safety at Boca Chica launch site was suspended until the investigation was completed and FAA approved company’s corrective actions to protect public safety. The corrective actions arising from the SN8 incident are incorporated into the SN9 launch license.
SpaceX has already rolled out the doomed rocket’s successor, SN10 rocket.
Newly arrived back on Earth after a quick visit to space, Virgin Galactic Chief Astronaut Beth Moses was effusive as she described the suborbital flight she had just taken aboard the company’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, VSS Unity.
“Richard, you’re going to love it!” she told Virgin Chairman Richard Branson, who had remotely monitored the Feb. 22, 2019 flight that had taken place over California’s Mojave Desert.
Flight date depends upon completion of review and the issuing of a launch license by Federal Aviation Administration.
Wednesday, February 3
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9 Payloads: 60 Starlink broadband satellites Launch Time: 5:57 a.m. EST (1057 UTC) Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Thursday, February 4
Launch Vehicle:Falcon 9 Payloads: 60 Starlink broadband satellites Launch Time: 1:19 a.m. EST (0619 UTC) Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida
NET Saturday, February 13
Launch Vehicle: VSS Unity/VMS Eve Payload: Two pilots, microgravity experiments Launch Time: TBD Launch Site: Spaceport America, New Mexico
Repeat of a flight test aborted on Dec. 12 due the computer losing contact with the engine. Launch opportunities extend through February. First of three additional tests intended to complete SpaceShipTwo’s initial flight test program.
SpaceX was not able to conduct a planned flight test of its SN9 Starship vehicle at Boca Chica in Texas this week because it didn’t have a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
This time, instead of a rocket exploding, Twitter did.
WASHINGTON (FAA PR) — After completing an assessment of potential environmental impacts, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved Space Florida’s application for a commercial space Reentry Site Operator License (RSOL) at the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) in Titusville, Fla.
WASHINGTON, DC (FAA PR) — Today the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a final rule (PDF) to facilitate the safe development of civil supersonic aircraft. The rule streamlines and clarifies procedures to obtain FAA approval for supersonic flight testing in the United States.
Environmental groups have protested a decision by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) to limit its review of Spaceport Camden’s revised plan to launch satellites from Camden County, Georgia.
Calling the decision “unlawful,” the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) has urged the FAA to conduct a full review of the controversial plan that would allow for new public comment on the revised spaceport proposal supported by the Camden County government.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) reaffirming the agencies’ longstanding relationship to foster robust American commercial space transportation capabilities, including commercial crew and cargo activities.
The NASA-FAA MOU follows the success of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 launch – the first crewed mission from American soil to be licensed by the FAA.
The new agreement will support the transportation of government and non-government passengers, cargo, and other payloads for orbital and suborbital space missions in a safe and cost-effective manner, as well as streamline spaceflight standards and requirements.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has rejected a recommendation from a government watchdog that it conduct detailed analysis of a broad range of financing tools for funding infrastructure projects at the nation’s spaceports.
In a report to Congressional committees, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said it recommended to the FAA that it analyze the trade-offs of using direct loans, loan guarantees, tax incentives and other tools to increase investment in spaceport infrastructure.
WASHINGTON (US DOT PR) — The U.S. Department of Transportation is having a record year with supporting 35 licensed commercial space launches thus far in 2020 with the potential for even more before the year ends. The prior record of 33 was established in 2018.
Congress approved a budget boost for the Office of Space Commerce (OSC) as it gears up to oversee civilian space traffic management (STM) and space situational awareness (SSA).
Congress provided OSC with $10 million and approved its plan with the merge with the Office of Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 approved on Monday. The amount is $5.9 million above the total the two offices received fiscal year 2020.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had wanted to elevate OSC into a bureau that would report directly to him. However, Congress elected to keep the office within the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS).
SpaceX Boca Chica Launch Site Scoping Period FAA Announcement
The FAA is holding a public scoping period to assist the FAA in determining the scope of issues for analysis in the draft environmental assessment (EA). As a part of the public scoping period, the FAA requests public comments. More information about providing public comments can be found at the end of this email.
WASHINGTON (U.S. DOT PR) — The U.S. Department of Transportation is having a record year with supporting 35 licensed commercial space launches thus far in 2020 with the potential for even more before the year ends. The prior record of 33 was established in 2018.
“The record number of launches demonstrates this administration’s commitment to support the innovation and growth of the U.S. commercial space transportation industry and lead the world in aerospace capabilities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.