After SN9’s test flight was scrubbed on Thursday, Elon Musk took to Twitter to share his grievances with the FAA saying its “fundamentally broken.”
Unlike its aircraft division, which is fine, the FAA space division has a fundamentally broken regulatory structure.
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.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 28, 2021
Where does this sentiment come from? Back in December, Starship SN8’s high-altitude test flight was definitely one to remember. Even though it didn’t land in one piece, it was deemed as a success by Elon Musk and space enthusiasts alike. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)? Not so much.
Like clockwork, an investigation was underway that same week. According to The Verge, the investigation was due to not only the explosion but also because the company does not want to stick with the terms the FAA authorizes.
It is not specified what regulations SpaceX did not want to comply with.
The next day, Steve Klum, the FAA’s spokesman announced that,
“The FAA will continue to work with SpaceX to evaluate additional information provided by the company as part of its application to modify its launch license,”and, “While we recognize the importance of moving quickly to foster growth and innovation in commercial space, the FAA will not compromise its responsibility to protect public safety. We will approve the modification only after we are satisfied that SpaceX has taken the necessary steps to comply with regulatory requirements.”
This is not the first time Elon Musk has aired his grievances with regulators. The Washington Post mentions that he told 60 Minutes that he does not respect the SEC. This was after the SEC alleged that Musk mislead investors and was fined $20 million dollars. Back in May, Tesla’s Fremont factory in California continued production in spite of Alameda county’s social distancing regulations. He tweeted that if anyone would be arrested, he wanted it only to be him.
Now, I don’t think the FAA has a reason to slow SN9’s launch or SpaceX’s progress. It’s the FAA’s job to make sure people are safe. Elon Musk and SpaceX need to take appropriate action to ensure safety. Again, it is not clear what regulations the company did not want to abide by. Unless the regulations in question were unclarified or inane then I would understand. I just think people are excited to see SN9 fly and emotions are high, especially after being pushed back yet again.