Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Annnnd ... Add Two More Months Before Starship's First Launch

Just last night I was saying I thought a Starship launch in February was still possible.  Now read the headline like this common meme:

Back in mid-November, the FAA had said that their Environmental Assessment of SpaceX’s orbital Starship launch site would be issued by this Friday, December 31st, 2021.  This morning, they changed that date.     

While watching the Lab Padre cameras' coverage of tests during today's road closure, word was being thrown around that the release has been delayed until February 28th.  I checked their "Permitting Dashboard" and found it confirmed that story.  

There's a version of this dashboard I screen captured in that November blog post that's identical to this one except for the dates that moved out to February.   That means that the "No Earlier Than" date for the first orbital Starship mission has to be pushed out to at least March 1st.      

Within a few hours of that discussion on Lab Padre (comments on one of the video streams), Teslarati picked up the story.  

Somewhat insultingly, in its official statement on the delay, the FAA appears to attempt to implicate the review of “over 18,000 public comments” received during a comment period as a source of those delays. That six-week comment period ended on November 1st, weeks before the FAA published its first December 31st target date. In other words, for comment reviews to be responsible for any of the new delays, the FAA’s environmental compliance group would have had to underestimate the amount of work required to complete that process by at least 100% – not all that encouraging for an agency in which precision and accuracy are of the utmost importance.

The real delays, which the FAA acknowledges in much less detail, are likely the result of “continuing consultation and coordination with other agencies at the local, State, and Federal level [sic].” In the FAA’s defense, some of those delays may technically be out of its control if slow responses from other agencies are partly to blame. ...

The only test today apparently was of the igniters on Booster 4 or perhaps just some of them, I haven't found anyone with a clear explanation.  Lab Padre just said, "More Booster 4 igniter tests, 4th occurred at 12:38:41 pm."  The road was closed for maybe three or four hours and the "pad cleared" flag was in place for maybe one hour out of that.  I don't know if that was the only intended test, but there's another road closure scheduled for tomorrow and Thursday in the same 10AM to 6PM window.

Another reason to move everything to Cape Canaveral, Elon.  The fact that there have been orbital launches for 60 years means the environment has been impacted as much as it's going to be. 


  1. What makes you expect that the EPA and FAA won't do the exact same darned thing at the Cape that they are doing at Starbase? Never underestimate the power of a fully operational bureaucracy.

    Let's see... Musk mouths off to powerful democrats. Starship gets pushed back. Bezos mutters some more bullscat about pipedreams. Starship gets pushed back.
    Nope, I see no correlation here.

    1. The FAA has no jurisdiction at the Cape since it's a military range. The EPA has much less jurisdiction for the same reason.

  2. Past time to rein in the EPA and Fish and Wildlife.

    1. They both love to be consulting agencies, but won't do their share of the work.

  3. How many friends does Senator Karen have at the F AA?