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  [Discuss] SpaceX Starship and Super Heavy (Page 7)

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Author Topic:   [Discuss] SpaceX Starship and Super Heavy
Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-19-2021 05:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX commenced testing its Starship SN20 orbital prototype with a pre-burner test on Tuesday (Oct. 19) at 12:39 a.m. EDT.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-21-2021 08:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From SpaceX (via Twitter):
First firing of a Raptor vacuum engine integrated onto a Starship.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-22-2021 11:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Elon Musk (via Twitter):
If all goes well, Starship will be ready for its first orbital launch attempt next month, pending regulatory approval.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-01-2021 01:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX video

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-15-2021 12:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX conducted a static fire test with Starship prototype SN-20.
First six-engine static fire test of Starship.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-15-2021 12:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
...the FAA will hold the first of two virtual public hearings
The FAA received more than 17,000 written comments from the public, in addition to the 121 verbal comments recorded at the two hearings.

The FAA expects to conclude its environmental assessment of SpaceX's Starship operations in Boca Chica, Texas by Dec. 31, 2021.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-18-2021 09:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Elon Musk said he expects this first orbital flight of Starship to take place as soon as January, pending regulatory approvals, reports SpaceNews.
Musk, speaking at a joint meeting of the National Academies' Space Studies Board and Board on Physics and Astronomy Nov. 17, said the company was in the final preparations of both the vehicle and its launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, ahead of a campaign of as many as a dozen test flights in 2022.

"We're close to our initial orbital launch," he said. "The first orbital flight we're hoping to do in January." Later in the discussion, he revised that, saying that flight would take place "in January or perhaps February."

That flight, as outlined in regulatory filings, would place the Starship in orbit, but the vehicle would complete less than one orbit before reentering and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean about 100 kilometers the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Both the Starship vehicle and its Super Heavy booster are now complete, he said, and the launch pad and tower should be complete this month. A "bunch of tests" will follow in December. ...

Musk later estimated SpaceX would attempt a dozen Starship launches next year, and possibly more. "The engine build rate is currently the biggest constraint on how many vehicles we can make," he said, given that Super Heavy requires 29 Raptor engines currently, and later 33, along with six on Starship. The company is building a new factory in Texas for high-volume production of Raptor.

If SpaceX is successful to recover and reuse Starship during those test flights, operational missions could begin in 2023. "We intend to complete the test flight program next year, which means that it's probably ready for valuable payloads — not for testing, basically, but actual real payloads — in 2023. So quite soon."

jklier
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posted 11-18-2021 09:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jklier   Click Here to Email jklier     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For this first test flight were they planning to recover either the booster or the Starship? As I recall the Starship was going to come back to earth somewhere near Hawaii, unless that has changed.

On edit: Sorry, I just skimmed you post. I see that it is coming in near Hawaii. So is the booster going to be recovered?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-18-2021 12:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to a filing with the FCC:
The Booster stage will separate approximately 170 seconds into flight. The Booster will then perform a partial return and land in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 20 miles from the shore.
SpaceX has not, to my knowledge, said anything about recovery after splashdown.

jklier
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posted 11-19-2021 06:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jklier   Click Here to Email jklier     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Robert. So they specify a soft water landing for the orbital component but just a landing for the booster. Unless they worded it wrong I'm assuming the booster will be coming in hot. They are doing a partial return so I'd bet they'd run it as a normal return for landing until the fuel is exhausted just to get as much data as they can.

SpaceAholic
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posted 11-30-2021 10:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Elon Musk has told SpaceX employees that a Starship "engine crisis" is creating a "risk of bankruptcy" for the company, CNBC reports.
He described a dire situation the day after Thanksgiving in a companywide email, a copy of which was obtained by CNBC.

"The Raptor production crisis is much worse than it seemed a few weeks ago," Musk wrote.

"We face genuine risk of bankruptcy if we cannot achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year," Musk added later.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-30-2021 11:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Verge reprinted Musk's email in its entirety.
Unfortunately, the Raptor production crisis is much worse than it seemed a few weeks ago. As we have dug into the issues following exiting prior senior management, they have unfortunately turned out to be far more severe than was reported. There is no way to sugarcoat this.

I was going to take this weekend off, as my first weekend off in a long time, but instead I will be on the Raptor line all night and through the weekend.

Unless you have critical family matters or cannot physically return to Hawthorne, we need all hands on deck to recover from what is, quite frankly, a disaster.

The consequences for SpaceX if we can’t get enough reliable Raptors made is that we then can’t fly Starship, which means we then can’t fly Starlink Satellite V2 (Falcon has neither the volume *nor* the mass to orbit needed for satellite V2). Satellite V1 by itself is financially weak, whereas V2 is strong.

In addition, we are spooling up terminal production to several million units per year, which will consume massive capital, assuming that satellite V2 will be on orbit to handle the bandwidth demand. These terminals will be useless otherwise.

What it comes down to is that we face genuine risk of bankruptcy if we cannot achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year.

David C
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posted 11-30-2021 03:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
...we face genuine risk of bankruptcy if we cannot achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year.
A minimum flight rate of one every 14 days? If that really is the bottom line then they are up the creek. I don't believe for one moment that's the full story.

Mike Dixon
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posted 11-30-2021 04:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Changes the landscape somewhat.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-30-2021 04:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Response(s) by Elon Musk (via Twitter):
On the "Raptor problem" —

It's getting fixed.

On SpaceX going bankrupt —

If a severe global recession were to dry up capital availability/liquidity while SpaceX was losing billions on Starlink and Starship, then bankruptcy, while still unlikely, is not impossible.

GM and Chrysler went bankrupt last recession.

The magnitude of the Starship program is not widely appreciated. It is designed to extend life to Mars (and the moon), which requires ~1000 times more payload to orbit than all current Earth rockets combined.

SkyMan1958
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posted 11-30-2021 09:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Once every two weeks next year? That is just dreaming. One would assume that they will blow up at least several multistage rockets next year. Let's face it, the booster has never been tried in flight before, and the Starship, while it did land the last two attempts, had issues with fire suppression after landing.

They may by the end of next year have a fully successful test mission, but I can't imagine any serious paying customer next year. Assuming a fully successful test mission, it would not surprise me if they started carrying partial Starlink payloads to both launch the satellites and get test data on "commercial" use of the Starship/Super Heavy system.

While obviously a serious problem, for all we know, this may be a way for Musk to try to further motivate the workforce.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-03-2021 01:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Elon Musk (via Twitter):
Construction of Starship orbital launch pad at the Cape has begun.
In a subsequent reply, Musk confirmed the pad will be part of Complex 39A.

NukeGuy
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posted 12-03-2021 04:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NukeGuy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hard to believe that in a vertically integrated company such as SpaceX, they were suddenly surprised by problems with the Raptor engine. Also, it seems they were selling a Starlink system that was sub-par and unprofitable that required new satellites that could only be launched by a vehicle probably two years away from being operational.

SpaceAholic
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posted 12-08-2021 11:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Disgruntled neighbors and dwindling shorebirds jeopardize SpaceX expansion, reports NBC News.
Now, the FAA is reviewing SpaceX’s plans to significantly expand the spaceport to allow for launches of the largest rocket known to man, an expansion that has alarmed many residents, environmentalists and wildlife conservationists.

SpaceX declined to respond to a detailed list of questions and allegations that it is lowballing homeowners and harming the environment, stating that the company did not have anyone available.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-28-2021 12:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
The FAA expects to conclude its environmental assessment of SpaceX's Starship operations in Boca Chica, Texas by Dec. 31, 2021.
Update from the FAA:
The FAA continues its Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for the proposed SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy project in Boca Chica, Texas. The new target date for issuing the Final PEA is February 28.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-10-2022 08:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Elon Musk (via Twitter):
Starship launch and catch tower.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-07-2022 04:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Elon Musk will provide an update about Starship on Thursday, Feb. 10 from SpaceX's Starbase launch site in Boca Chica, Texas.

More details to come.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-10-2022 08:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Last night (Feb. 9), SpaceX stacked Starship SN20 atop Super Heavy booster 4 ahead of tonight's presentation by Elon Musk. The mating marked the first use of the company's new tower mounted robotic arms ("chopsticks") to pinch and lift the Starship.

Neither this spacecraft or booster are expected to fly to orbit. Photo shared by Elon Musk (via Twitter):

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-10-2022 06:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX live video
On Thursday, February 10 SpaceX CEO Elon Musk will provide an update on the design, development, and testing of Starship.

You can watch the event live at approximately 8:00 p.m. CDT.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-11-2022 08:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"It is hard to believe it is real, except, you know... it is right there."
Elon Musk took to the stage here on Thursday night (Feb. 10) to deliver what his company, SpaceX, billed as an "update on the design, development and testing of Starship" — the "it" to which Musk was referring and of what he further described as "really some some wild stuff." Towering behind him at SpaceX's South Texas Launch Site (or "Starbase") was the first fully-stacked Starship, comprising a prototype spacecraft of the same name mounted atop a mockup of its even taller "Super Heavy" booster.

The steel-skinned vehicle, which glistened in the spotlights that were illuminating it against the night sky, was itself poised atop its launch pad as if ready for flight.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-14-2022 12:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Update from the FAA:
The FAA is announcing that the new target date to complete its environmental review of the SpaceX Starship / Super Heavy is now March 28, 2022. The previous date was Feb. 28, 2022.

Completing the environmental review does not guarantee that a vehicle operator license will be issued to SpaceX. The environmental review is just one part of the FAA commercial space licensing process. SpaceX must also meet FAA safety, risk and financial responsibility requirements.

More than 19,000 public comments were received on the draft environmental review. In addition, the FAA is continuing consultation and coordination with other agencies.

SpaceAholic
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posted 02-26-2022 08:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
More context on the additional delay:
...information acquired through a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request indicates that US Departments of Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) and National Parks Services (NPS) are the primary sources of recent delays and the only real sources of discord this late in the process. As an example, as of the end of October 2021, the NPS had a list of at least 31 comments on SpaceX's Starbase Draft PEA, each of which would have required a detailed response and additional back-and-forth to refine each response. The critiques and requests cover virtually every aspect of orbital Starship launches from Starbase, including FAA launch license details, recent SpaceX land acquisitions, impacts on a local Civil War battlefield landmark, pad lighting, air quality, noise, paint colors, road closures, Raptor thrust, contingency plans, and more.

Meanwhile, in a general review, the Department of the Interior (DOI) – speaking on behalf of the FWS and NPS – raised concerns about "launch site blast area hazards, closure of FWS and NPS lands, environmental justice (EJ) concerns, NHPA Section 106 and 110(f), [endangered] species, air quality emissions, and climate change impacts.

SpaceAholic
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posted 03-17-2022 12:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After rapidly stacking Ship 20 and Booster 4 the evening prior, SpaceX appears to have begun testing a fully stacked Starship rocket for the first time.
For its first fully-integrated test, though, SpaceX appears to have put Starship through a fairly limited cryogenic proof – a test where flammable propellant is replaced with a similarly cold (cryogenic) fluid that's similar enough to subject a rocket to similar thermal and mechanical stresses.

For Ship 20 and Booster 4's combined debut, Super Heavy was filled maybe 10-20% and Starship around 25-50% of the way with either liquid nitrogen (LN2) or a combination of LN2 and liquid oxygen (LOx). It's difficult to tell but it's unlikely any methane (LCH4) fuel was involved.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-25-2022 03:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Elon Musk has confirmed that all new prototypes of Super Heavy and Starship will be used for the vehicle's first orbital flight test.

With regards to schedule, he writes (via Twitter):

First Starship orbital flight will be with Raptor 2 engines, as they are much more capable and reliable. 230 ton or ~500k lb thrust at sea level.

We’ll have 39 flightworthy engines built by next month, then another month to integrate, so hopefully May for orbital flight test.

With that said, May seems unlikely given the latest delay from the FAA:
The FAA intends to issue the Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for the SpaceX Starship / Super Heavy project on April 29, 2022. The previous target date was March 28, 2022.

The FAA is currently reviewing the Final PEA and completing consultation and coordination with agencies at the local, State and Federal level.

The completion of the environmental review will not guarantee that the FAA will issue a license to SpaceX to launch its Starship / Super Heavy vehicle. SpaceX's license application must also meet FAA safety, risk and financial responsibility requirements.

SkyMan1958
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posted 03-25-2022 05:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Given FAA's repeated delays on okaying Starship/Super Heavy, does anyone get the feeling that the delay might be linked to behind the scenes politics?

I've certainly felt that there's been a fair amount of behind the scenes lobbying and dirty tricks played on Starship/Elon Musk of late, notably the questioning of his links to China. In my opinion, Boeing (SLS), ULA (Vulcan) and Blue Origin (BE-4, New Glenn, lunar human landing) have been doing everything in their power to slow down SpaceX.

It would not surprise me if the Starship/Super Heavy combo doesn't get FAA approval until after SLS/Artemis I have launched. That way the first new US Heavy lift vehicle since Saturn V, with all the accompanying hoopla, will be a Boeing product.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-25-2022 06:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think you're underestimating the amount of work needed to approve a vehicle of this type from a range never before used and in a state unfamiliar with launch regulations.

The FAA already provided its permission for SpaceX to launch Starship (with Super Heavy) from the Kennedy Space Center. If there truly was a secret effort to keep SpaceX grounded, then that too would have been delayed. It is SpaceX's desire to launch from Boca Chica (in part because of the number of regulations and eastern range oversight in Florida).

Also, you're assuming the FAA is the only hold up. Is SpaceX really ready to fly? The company has done no hops and no high altitude tests with Raptor 2. They have completed only one cryogenic test with Super Heavy. Are they really going to leave the rest of testing for the first orbital flight attempt?

oly
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posted 03-25-2022 09:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Given that SpaceX already has environmental approval for launches from the Florida Space Coast KSC and the Air Force Station, it may be prudent for SpaceX to transfer its operations from Texas to Florida.

The Environmental Review has set SpaceX back on the rapid development plan, and a continued delay would cause onward delays that may impact the lunar landing plans.

SpaceX may be better off operating from the East Coast for a few reasons, one being the airspace closures whenever they conduct a flight test. The North-South American airways routes see heavy traffic, which gets diverted during a launch. Having two launch sites inside these flight paths seems crazy because the launches generally go East, so restricted airspace is generally East of the launch site, and having Texas and Florida active makes air traffic movements problematic.

I suspect that if SpaceX had maintained the Super Heavy development in Florida, they may have been further along in the development and test schedule by now.

If, after the Environmental Review is completed, they decide that a full Environmental Impact Study is warranted, or, the review recommends significant restrictions to SpaceX operations, is there a chance that Boca China may be abandoned?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-25-2022 10:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Elon Musk said that if they ran into significant delays getting clearance to launch from Boca Chica, they would be forced to move operations to Kennedy Space Center. He estimated it would take six to eight months to build up Launch Complex 39A to be ready to start tests of Starship and Super Heavy.

As for HLS, I believe SpaceX intends to launch its Starship HLS from Kennedy regardless if Boca Chica is available or not, so whether they make the move now or later, it will eventually happen.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-06-2022 05:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX's application for an expansion of its South Texas launch site was suspended by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after the company failed to provide requested information, reports Bloomberg.
The Army Corps informed SpaceX in a letter dated March 7 that it has closed the review of an application for a secondary launch and landing pad, along with other launch support infrastructure, for the Boca Chica site.

"Without the requested information, the permit process cannot continue," Lynda Yezzi, public affairs chief for the Army Corps, Galveston District, said Wednesday in an email to Bloomberg.

The process can be re-initiated once the data is submitted, according to the letter. SpaceX and Musk didn't immediately reply to emails seeking comment on the permit process.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-29-2022 12:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Update from the FAA:
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.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-10-2022 01:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX suffered a Raptor 2 engine failure on Monday (May 9), when three seconds into a static fire on a test stand at McGregor, Texas exploded (or otherwise went wrong).

There has been no comment from either the company or its leadership.


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