SpaceX was ready to conduct its fourth high-altitude flight test earlier today, March 29. Engineers started to prepare the Starship SN11 vehicle at the Boca Chica Beach launch pad in the morning, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) delayed the flight test due to an inspector who was unable to arrive to the SpaceX South Texas Launch Facility. “FAA inspector unable to reach Starbase in time for launch today. Postponed to no earlier than tomorrow,” announced Elon Musk, founder and CEO at SpaceX. He calls Boca Chica Beach the ‘Gateway to Mars’ and plans to rename the region to ‘Starbase, Texas’, from where he envisions a Starship fleet embarking on voyages to the Red Planet.
FAA inspector unable to reach Starbase in time for launch today. Postponed to no earlier than tomorrow.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 29, 2021
The FAA is tasked with enforcing flight safety and performs environmental assessments to ensure everything is safe during flight operations. “On March 12, the FAA revised the SpaceX Starship license to require an FAA safety inspector to be present at the Boca Chica site for every flight. This is the result of FAA's continuing oversight of SpaceX to ensure compliance with federal regulations to protect public safety, including issues arising from the SN8 launch in December 2020,” the Administration stated today, “SpaceX must provide adequate notice of its launch schedule to allow for a FAA safety inspector to travel to Boca Chica.” Multiple Starship prototypes have ended with explosions upon landing, an FAA inspector will oversee operations to ensure the area is safe if an explosion happens again. It is important to note, Starship is under development and explosions are expected to happen. Each test provides engineers with valuable insight to develop the spacecraft.
That would be great, or possibly via video with full access to telemetry— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 29, 2021
In response to the situation, Christian Davenport, a space reporter, said via Twitter –“Given the crazy high cadence of SpaceX Starship launches, you'd think the FAA would have an inspector down there permanently at this point.” To which Musk responded–“That would be great, or possibly via video with full access to telemetry,” he wrote. According to Cameron County Boca Chica Beach road closure announcements, SpaceX targets to launch Starship SN11 on Tuesday, March 20, anytime between 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Central Time; Date is subject to change. The stainless-steel vehicle will soar 10-kilometers above the sandy beach powered by a trio of methane-fueled Raptors that will be shutdown mid-flight to perform an aerodynamic flight controlled by its aerodynamic flaps. Upon descent, SN11 will perform a landing-flip-maneuver. If the vehicle does not explode this time around, it will be great for the company. You can watch SpaceX Starship launchpad operations Live 24/7 in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
WATCH IT LIVE!
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.