Thursday, July 29, 2021
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Launch regulations ‘broken’ after delayed SpaceX launch


SpaceX was seconds away from launching its 20th mission of this year Tuesday when the countdown was halted due to an aircraft entering the launch range, delaying the mission by at least a day.

Elon Musk took to Twitter to voice his frustration about the delay, reiterating prior criticisms he has made about regulations around the business of launching rockets.

“An aircraft entered the ‘keep out zone’, which is unreasonably gigantic,” Musk wrote in a tweet.

“There is simply no way that humanity can become a spacefaring civilization without major regulatory reform. The current regulatory system is broken,” he added.

Musk has ratcheted up his criticism of launch regulations this year, with SpaceX firing off Falcon 9 rockets at a blistering pace – with launches going up an average of every nine days – and also flying multiple development tests of its Starship prototype rockets. After a Starship test was delayed in January, Musk similarly criticized the Federal Aviation Administration for how it handles launch regulations.

“Unlike its aircraft division, which is fine, the FAA space division has a fundamentally broken regulatory structure,” Musk wrote then. “Their rules are meant for a handful of expendable launches per year from a few government facilities. Under those rules, humanity will never get to Mars.”

The FAA has internally pushed back on SpaceX, after the company violated its launch license with the authorized test flight of Starship prototype SN8 in December. Since then, the FAA says SpaceX has “modified their procedures effectively” and earlier this month testified before Congress about efforts to streamline launch regulations and rules.

Although he’s publicly criticized regulators, Musk has also stated that “99.9% of the time, I agree with regulators!”

“On rare occasions, we disagree. This is almost always due to new technologies that past regulations didn’t anticipate,” Musk said in April.

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