SpaceX Starship spacecraft prototypes and a super heavy booster sit at the company’s launch facility in south Texas.

“the apparent delay on an orbital test isn’t all red tape.

“The ground system at Boca Chica was scaled only for what they needed for their suborbital test,” says Colangelo.

“They did not have the systems capable of doing [orbital launches] a year ago”.

SpaceX has spent the last year building out its capabilities on the ground, constructing extra storage tanks, and the all-important launch tower — a necessity for an orbital launch.

Colangelo expects SpaceX will win approval for more launches, but there may be a more fundamental problem with Boca Chica as a launch site. In recent months, SpaceX has spent considerable resources building a new launch tower at the Kennedy Space Center’s historic Launchpad 39A, which launched the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. Since 2013, SpaceX has held a lease on the Florida site, and it is now being upgraded for Starship launches.

“I think SpaceX has been hedging their bets,” says Cobb.

“They’ve been really ramping up their Starship efforts down at the Kennedy Space Center, building out a Starship launch tower down there.”

“It’s their backup plan,” she adds.

Kennedy Space Center is also better located for launches, as rockets can reach a wider range of different orbits.

“Imagine if you had an airport that you could only fly from in two directions,” says Colangelo. “That’s not that useful.”

Back to the red tape, 39A might prove a more suitable home for Starship than Boca Chica.

“39A has all the environmental stuff cleared for gigantic rockets,” says Colangelo. “It wasn’t even scaled for the Saturn 5, it was scaled for the [planned, but never built larger] thing after the Saturn 5.

“They built that pad thinking it will be the Mars rocket launch pad,” he adds.

Handy. Starship’s ultimate goal is to ferry humans to Mars by the middle of this century.”

Comment: I wish SpaceX all the best with this program, but I am afraid there will be a lot of crashing, explosions and burning before it works well. pl

SpaceX Starship: Where is Musk’s mega rocket now? (inverse.com)

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  1. TTG says:

    Booster 7 had an unplanned explosion/fire on the launch pad a few days ago. It looked bad, but the booster stood tall and the launch pad itself doesn’t seem to have sustained any major damage. The booster and all the raptor engines are going to thoroughly inspected and repaired before any further use, if possible, of those components. No sweat. Booster 8 is almost ready although they’re going to have to explain what went wrong with booster 7 before proceeding.

  2. cobo says:

    When you consider the gains that were made in the first phases of our space program, the number of deaths was insignificant. I know, every life is significant, but compared to car wrecks, drug overdoses, etc. it’s nothing. The other and most important factor is that those who participate in these cutting edge and risky programs do so completely of their own freewill. In fact they are not only willing, they are called at the highest level of their beings, fully aware of the risk involved. The next phase, and probably every phase thereon, will be the same. There will be catastrophic events, and we will grieve for our heroes who ventured forth, but this is life. My concern is the constant presentation of these events by the media that always makes these hand-wringing affairs and guide us to think we need to question our continued efforts. God I hate those f’rs.

    • TTG says:


      Don’t discount our robotic exploration. We’ve reach the planets and beyond our solar system. Through Hubble and now the James Webb, we’re reaching far beyond that. We’ve been roaming the surface of Mars for years and are now flying a drone there as well. The landing of OSIRIS-REx on the asteroid Bennu was truly exciting. All this through robotic exploration.

      • cobo says:

        I agree, and it is impressive and certainly has my full support. However, I’ve been unhappy for decades that we’ve doodled around with everything but a moon base. We should own that thing, even if just to park our robots.

    • leith says:

      Cobo –

      Those were electrifying times back then. Unfortunate that our children & grandchildren did not witness the first spaceflights (Gagarin, Shepard, Glenn). Or even the later ones, my firstborn was an infant when Apollo 11 first landed humans on the moon. But perhaps the grandkids or their children will see a return to space – a human stepping foot on Mars? – a permanent manned moonstation? – or perhaps even human-slow-boats to Proxima Centauri for our great-great-crandchildren?

      • cobo says:

        The first Star Trek I caught was the one where the TOS crew landed on a planet where the children lived long until they became “grups” grown ups. That was in sixth grade, early in the first season. I watched our little B&W TV through the space shots and the other momentus events of the sixties. The kids need a future to believe in, and like the wooden ships that explored the oceans, it’s space. One of the few books (series) that I’ve read again and again is Asimov’s “Foundation” trilogy. For all the difficulties of the times, there wasn’t the darkness and lack of hope that exists today. We don’t need an interregnum, now, we need much better governance. Oh where, oh where….

    • Barbara Ann says:


      The hand-wringing media treatment is unavoidable. Given this and the intrinsic extremely high levels of risk associated with space flight (manned or otherwise) I think NASA and now SpaceX ought to consider openly declaring their target failure rate* for each program. If NASA had said at the outset of the Shuttle program that a success criterion was losing no more than 1 in 50 missions, they would at least have been able to put the inevitable losses in context. But instead the Shuttle program was promoted as the route to space flight in reusable vehicles becoming routine. Nothing wrong with that per se, but then NASA started sending school teachers into space. Losing 2 out of 135 missions was obviously going to be seen as very far from routine. How many of the astronauts would have declined to fly if told the odds of not returning were 1 in 67.5? Maybe the teacher, but no others I expect. Heck I’d have gone with odds like that.

      *One practical barrier to this is statistical significance, given the low number of missions in a given program

      So when the time comes let Musk tell us what his number is. He of all people could get away with being honest about how many explosions he expects to see.

  3. joe90 says:

    Comment: I wish SpaceX all the best with this program, but I am afraid there will be a lot of crashing, explosions and burning before it works well. pl

    Yes, but at least they are willing to put up with failure to learn how to succeed. You learn nothing by being a coward, little by always being safe, SpaceX is classic American risk taking. You cant get to the moon if you don´t go for it!

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