SpaceX slams regulatory ‘headwinds’ for holding up Starship, risking US dominance in space

SpaceX slams regulatory ‘headwinds’ for holding up Starship, risking US dominance in space

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has slammed the U.S. government’s regulatory “headwinds” as the company faces a potential setback in its efforts to establish the United States’s dominance in space.

In a tweet, Musk accused the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of “extraordinarily slow” action in approving permits for Starship, SpaceX’s upcoming reusable rocket and spacecraft system. The project has been held up in its developmement due to regulatory issues.

“The FAA is extremely burdened at the moment due to the sheer number of emerging new launch companies that want to do business in the United States. Because SpaceX has used its resources to get to this stage so quickly, the FAA has so far held up our progress in Starship due to a lack of manpower to provide proper oversight,” Musk said in a tweet.

Musk added that he believes the “headwinds” from the U.S. regulatory system are “the most significant risk” to SpaceX’s mission of providing access to space for people around the world and establishing the United States’s lead in the space industry. He called on other space companies to put pressure on government officials to implement more efficient regulations that are suitable to the current industry.

The recent SpaceX tweet follows a speech by Musk at a NASA event in December 2020, where he was critical of the bureaucracy stifling the space industry, describing it as “a giant clogged pipe.”

The FAA has responded to the criticism, noting that it is “fully committed to enabling commercially operated space transportation, to support innovation, and to fostering continued job growth and safety.” It added that in 2021, it will be making multiple “innovations” to its regulatory regime, including the use of “data-driven risk models” and a streamlined process for licensing and authorizing launch operations.

SpaceX and the FAA have previously clashed over the company’s starships. In August 2020, the FAA fined SpaceX $3.4 million for a 2019 launch due to a failure to notify the agency of the potential danger the launch posed to the public, enduring criticism from Musk.

SpaceX has since worked to assuage the FAA’s concerns and is looking to launch its first test flight of the Starships in 2021. Despite the conflict with the government, Musk remains committed to working with the FAA and is hopeful that their collaboration can help them strive towards achieving their goal.