Musk Lashes Out at ‘Broken’ FAA After Starship Test Is Postponed
(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk slammed the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for “a fundamentally broken regulatory structure” amid uncertainty about when his Space Exploration Technologies Corp. would be able to conduct a second test flight of its massive Starship spacecraft.
The launch planned for Thursday was scrubbed and would be rescheduled for Friday, the FAA said on its air-traffic website. The regulator didn’t say if it ordered the cancellation or why the flight was scrapped.
“We will continue working with SpaceX to resolve outstanding safety issues before we approve the next test flight,” the FAA said in an emailed statement. SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
NASASpaceflight.com, a space news website, said the status of the test flight was unclear as it showed a livestream of the launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, near Brownsville.
SpaceX had touted a launch window of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time for a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) test flight of its next-generation Starship SN-9 prototype. The FAA must issue a temporary flight restriction for the zone in which Starship would fly, which covers part of the Gulf of Mexico. The restriction prohibits commercial air traffic from ground level to more than 100,000 feet (about 30,500 meters).
In a tweet, Musk said the FAA’s rules are tailored “for a handful of expendable launches per year from a few government facilities. Under those rules, humanity will never get to Mars.”
SpaceX’s stainless steel Starship is designed to be a versatile, fully reusable craft that can carry 100 metric tons for deep space missions to the moon and Mars and also serve as a hypersonic, point-to-point vehicle to reduce travel times across Earth. Excluding a heavy booster that creates a two-stage system, Starship is 160 feet high with a 30-foot diameter, and capable of carrying as many as 100 passengers.
The Starship SN-8 first flew on Dec. 9 with a successful ascent and a landing flip maneuver, remaining stable throughout the nearly seven-minute flight. But low pressure in a fuel tank caused the spacecraft to land too rapidly, resulting in a fireball at touchdown.
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