Launchapalooza: 26 New Boosters Debuting Worldwide

Vega-C lifts off on its maiden flight on July 13, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the first seven months of the year, five new satellite launch vehicles from Europe, China, Russia and South Korea flew successfully for the first time. As impressive as that is, it was a mere opening act to a busy period that could see at least 20 additional launchers debut around the world.

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Musk Says Starship Ready to Fly From Boca Chica in July

Elon has always been optimistic on timetables, so we’ll see how long it takes.

The range is anywhere from 17 to 47 days from Musk’s June 14 tweet. You get a range of two to five months when you put those numbers into the Elon Time Converter. That means anywhere from mid-August to mid-November.

My guess is Aug. 15. Feel free to provide your best guess in the comments below. All dates must be for Central Time in Boca Chica. The actual date of the flight may vary depending upon where you live in the world. And, as always, no wagering!

FAA Stresses Required Environmental Mitigation Actions in Finding No Significant Impact From SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy Launches

Starship/Super Heavy on the launch pad at Boca Chica, Texas. (Credit: SpaceX)

WASHINGTON (FAA PR) — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will require SpaceX to take more than 75 actions to mitigate environmental impacts from its proposed plan to launch the Starship/Super Heavy vehicle from Boca Chica, Texas. 

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FAA Finds No Significant Impact From SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy Launches From Boca Chica, Order Mitigation Steps

Jets fly by SpaceX’s Super Heavy/Starship launch system. (Credit: Jared Isaacman)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The FAA issued a mitigated Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) decision on Monday that will SpaceX to launch its massive Starship/Super Heavy booster combination from its Starbase facility at Boca Chica, Texas. In order to launch, however, SpaceX must take a series of more than 75 actions to mitigate the impact on a sensitive wildlife areas that adjoin the launch base and the endangered and threatened species that live there.

FAA’s decision is a major step forward for SpaceX’s plans for a maiden flight of the booster combination from the Gulf Coast facility located just north of the Mexican border. It might also lead to litigation by a coalition of the environmental groups who believe the launch base is incompatible with the surrounding area.

FAA still needs to issue a launch license to SpaceX. The company plans to conduct a suborbital flight of the boosters that would see Starship crash into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii.

FAA’s decision is also good news for NASA. The space agency awarded a $2.9 billion contract to SpaceX to develop the Human Landing System (HLS) that will return U.S. astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time in more than half a century. The company is adapting Starship to be the lander; Super Heavy would launch it into space.

Starship/Super Heavy is the foundation of Elon Musk’s plan to colonize Mars. It is designed to launch 100 to 150 metric tons into Earth orbit.

FAA Delays Environmental Assessment for SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy Another 2 Weeks

Super Heavy/Starship system in flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

FAA Statement

The FAA intends to issue the Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for the SpaceX Starship / Super Heavy project on June 13, 2022. Interagency consultation is ongoing.

The completion of the PEA will not guarantee that the FAA will issue a launch license. SpaceX’s application also must meet FAA safety, risk and financial responsibility requirements.

In addition, the comments submitted during the Draft PEA public comment period are posted here

Video: Go up SpaceX’s Starship-catching robotic launch tower with Elon Musk!

Video Caption: Today we’re going up SpaceX’s Orbital Launch Tower with the ultimate tour guide, Elon Musk. He’s going to walk us around the bottom, explain how they plan to catch the booster with the chopsticks and then we’ll go up the elevator stopping at the quick disconnect and on the upper deck!

Recommended videos to help with some context [Playlist] – https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLW…

Huge thanks to Ryan Chylinksi from Cosmic Perspective for helping shoot this video! – https://www.youtube.com/c/CosmicPersp… & http://patreon.com/cosmicperspective

Video: Elon Musk Explains Updates to Starship and Starbase

Video Caption: Today we’re going inside Starbase with the ultimate tour guide, Elon Musk. He’s going to take us through the High Bay to see where Starships are assembled, we’ll also see the new MegaBay under construction and talk about SpaceX’s plans to get this rocket flying.

Recommended videos to help with some context [Playlist] – https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLW…

Huge thanks to Ryan Chylinksi from Cosmic Perspective for helping shoot this video! – https://www.youtube.com/c/CosmicPersp... & http://patreon.com/cosmicperspective

FAA Pushes Starbase Environmental Assessment Back Another Month

Starship SN8 takes off from Boca Chica, Texas. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

FAA Statement

The FAA is working toward issuing the final Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for the SpaceX Starship / Super Heavy on May 31, 2022. SpaceX made multiple changes to its application that require additional FAA analysis. The agency continues to review around 18,000 general public comments. 

The completion of the PEA will not guarantee that the FAA will issue a launch license. SpaceX’s application must also meet FAA safety, risk and financial responsibility requirements.

Texas Gov. Abbott Vows to Fight for SpaceX to Launch From Boca Chica

Greg Abbott

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has vowed to fight for SpaceX to receive federal approval to launch its Super Heavy/Starship system from the company’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas. Rio Grande Guardian reports:

Asked by veteran broadcaster Ron Whitlock of Ron Whitlock Reports whether he is concerned about losing SpaceX, Abbott said:

“What I am going to do if Biden interferes with the ability of SpaceX to launch from Boca Chica; I am going to be working every step of the way to make sure that they are going to be able to launch from Boca Chica. We heard the vision from Mr. Patel himself about what they are working on and our job is to make sure they are able to achieve their vision. And I have worked with Elon Musk very closely with regard to Tesla and the Giga factory in Austin, Texas. And we will be working with him very closely, every step of the way in Boca Chica for the future of SpaceX. We want that future and that vision to come from Boca Chica, from Brownsville, Texas.”

Whitlock followed up with: “And not to Florida?” Abbott responded: “Correct.”

Whitlock interviewed Abbott at an economic development event held recently at the Port of Brownsville. Since this event, SpaceX has learned that its application to expand its Boca Chica rocket launching site has hit a new hurdle.

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Suspends SpaceX’s Application to Expand Boca Chica Launch Facility

The purple line surrounds parts of SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility that has been developed. Additional facilities would be added below that area. The dotted line delineates SpaceX’s property line. The orange areas are unvegetated salt flats. The green areas are high marsh areas. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Elon Musk’s controversial plan to launch SpaceX’s Super Heavy/Starship system from Boca Chica, Texas has hit another snag as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has suspended review of the company’s application for an expansion of its Starbase spaceport. The reason: SpaceX’s failure to provide additional information requested from the company on May 21, 2021. The application can be revived if SpaceX provides the requested information.

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Space Organizations Urge FAA to Approve Boca Chica Site for Super Heavy/Starship Flight Tests

The purple line surrounds parts of SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility that has been developed. Additional facilities would be added below that area. The dotted line delineates SpaceX’s property line. The orange areas are unvegetated salt flats. The green areas are high marsh areas. (Credit: SpaceX)

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (Mars Society PR) — A group of 14 space advocacy organizations today published a joint statement urging rapid U.S. government approval of SpaceX’s Starship test flights.

Commenting on the initiative, Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin said: “The organizations that have come together to make this statement represent every point of view within the space community. Whether one’s priority is settling Mars, developing space commerce, exploring the Moon, assuring national security, or gaining new knowledge of the Earth, the planets, or the universe, we all agree that it is vital that this program be allowed to move forward. There may be many more hurdles like this that SpaceX and others seeking to open the space frontier will face, but this statement shows that the often-fractured movement of space advocates can come together to help when it really counts.” 

The statement and its signatories are shown below. 

The SpaceX Starship offers extraordinary potential benefits for the exploration and development of space by both the public and private sectors. It will enable many new commercial space ventures as well as dramatically lower the costs and raise the frequency of scientific missions that will provide amazing new knowledge about our universe and home planet.

Its relatively clean environmental footprint, the large savings it offers U.S. taxpayers as a means of transport for government programs and missions and its ability to rapidly and regularly deliver satellite constellations and payloads to orbit will enhance national security, increase high paying jobs in the space sector, and propel American space leadership far ahead of any global competitors.

Therefore we, the undersigned organizations, strongly urge the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other federal agencies to provide full approval to SpaceX to begin orbital test flights of the Starship at the earliest possible date.
 

Approved by:

The Mars Society
National Space Society
Earthlight Foundation
Alliance for Space Development
Space Development Foundation
Space Development Network
The Moon Society
The Mars Foundation
Space for Humanity
Tea Party in Space
For All Moonkind
The Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration
The Space Resources Roundtable
The Space Development Steering Committee

Texas Leaders Pressuring FAA to Approve SpaceX’s Boca Chica Site for Super Heavy/Starship Launches

Super Heavy/Starship system in flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Elon Musk’s recent update on the progress of SpaceX’s Super Heavy/Starship launch system didn’t provide much in the way of technical news. However, the billionaire’s presentation did seem to have had its intended political effect.

Musk was clear that if the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t come through with an approval to conduct launches from its Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, SpaceX will move operations to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Musk to Give Starship Update, Astra Space and Arianespace Launches Scheduled for Today

Super Heavy/Starship system in flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk will give an update on the development of Starship and Super Heavy boosters live from Starbase in Texas on Thursday at 9 p.m. EST (02:00 UTC on Friday). You can watch the webcast at www.spacex.com.

Arianespace will launch 34 OneWeb satellites aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. Liftoff is scheduled for 1:09 p.m. EST (18:09 UTC). You can watch the launch here.

Astra Space will attempt to launch four CubeSats for NASA for the third time on Thursday, Feb. 10. The launch window opens at 3 p.m. EST (20:00 UTC). You can watch a webcast of the launch at astra.com/livestream.

My Appearance on The Space Show Now Available for Listening


My appearance on The Space Show with David Livingston last night is now archived for your listening pleasure:

https://thespaceshow.com/show/08-feb-2022/broadcast-3823-doug-messier

ESG Hound called in to discuss the ongoing FAA environmental assessment of SpaceX’s Boca Chica Starbase and the legal issues surrounding it. Most of the media have all but ignored the subject. It’s worth understanding in light of Elon Musk’s Starship update on Thursday evening at 9 p.m. EST.

We also talked about Virgin Galactic’s new president, Spaceport America’s multi-million dollar revenue problem, the proliferation of private space stations and modules, and what is shaping up to the busiest launch year in history.

I had a great time. Thank you to David for inviting me on. Thanks to ESG Hound for illuminating the issues at stake in the FAA’s attempt to approve Super Heavy/Starship launches from Boca Chica.

Video: SpaceX Boca Chica Starbase Draft Environmental Assessment Teardown

Video Caption: For the past eleven months, the Federal Aviation Administration has been taking public input regarding SpaceXs Boca Chica activities, but on September 17th, 2021 they announced their final push on Twitter.

The Common Sense Skeptic Community has now responded directly to the FAA with the transcript of this video.