SpaceX: no authorization from FAA

To the delays of SpaceX, the failure to release authorization from the FAA for the orbital launch tower is added.
A section of SpaceX’s orbital launch tower. Credit: Tayler Gray

July 1st, 2021 was supposed to be a historic date for SpaceX, with the first orbital launch of the Starship. However, construction delays at the Starbase in Boca Chica, the company’s headquarters led by Elon Musk, have been compounded by the FAA ‘s opposing opinion and the failure to release authorization for SpaceX ‘s orbital launch tower. The company did not wait for the FAA’s final approval.

Currently, work on the orbital tower is nearly complete. The seven sections of which it is composed have been assembled, reaching a height of approximately 140 meters. However, recent arrivals in Boca Chica suggest that there are still some components to be installed both on the tower itself and on the launch pad.

SpaceX risks having to dismantle the Orbital Launch Tower

An FAA spokesperson, as reported by CBN, stated that “Without FAA authorization, SpaceX is building the launch tower at its own risk and danger”. If the environmental assessment were to have a negative outcome, the American company would be forced to dismantle the tower. This is however a remote possibility, although possible.

The agency had already carried out checks on the Boca Chica area regarding activities related to the Falcon 9 rockets. However, as the starship and the Super Heavy far exceeded those dimensions, the FAA had warned SpaceX that further approvals would be necessary. Nevertheless, work at the Starbase continued and the tower was almost completely assembled. It also seems that SpaceX wrote in a note to the FAA that the tower would only be used for testing and assembly, effectively excluding the possibility of launch.

At present, it is highly unlikely that the prototype starship 20 and Booster 4 launch will take place before September. In the meantime, Booster 3 is on the pad waiting to make its Raptors motor roar for the first time during a static fire.

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