Well, this has certainly been a wild week. Last Sunday, I posted a summary of some key environmental impacts to look out for during SpaceX’s first launch of Starship Superheavy from Boca Chica, Texas. The post did really well in the following days; it racked up a view count in the ~25k range, a big success for a Substack like mine.
Thank you for the detailed write-up.
You may have addressed this issue in the past, but what is the story with Bill Nelson? It's one thing to be passionate about space exploration, but he seems to have drunk the Musk kool-aid. He has a fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers who subsidize SpaceX, but he breezily waves away legitimate concerns.
Is this an unfair criticism? I recall watching an interview of Nelson where he was asked why the US was in testing so heavily in a rather inhospitable planet like Mars, and the response was a garbled paragraph that resembled the intro to a Star Trek episode.
As someone who has followed Eric Berger since egis Chronicle days, and is a huge fan of what he's done with Space City Weather, it's disappointing to see how much he's crossed the line into cheerleading mode with regards to SpaceX. I know he's excited about the possibilities and impressed with what they have accomplished, but he has apparently decided he can't be critical at all
These comments from Musk are really worrying. https://twitter.com/thesheetztweetz/status/1652451971410935808
He seems to be seriously underplaying the damage. The worst comment was "Debris was really just basically sand and rock so it's not toxic at all ... it's just like a sandstorm, essentially ... but we don't want to do that again." He also seems to be planning on another bad shortcut saying, "Reason for going with a steel plate instead of a flame trench is that for payloads in the rocket, the worse acoustic environment doesn't matter to the payload since it's about 400 feet away." Without dissipating enormous thermal and mechanical shocks, the energy may bounce back and damage the rocket.
Interesting development: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/05/01/faa-faces-suit-over-spacex-starship-launch-following-april-explosion.html
Has anyone prevailed suing FAA over defective certification?
The damage to the launchpad and the amount of debris ejected into the Lower Rio Grande Refuge is something to behold. Fortunately, we have video.
Great write up with a clear overview of the issues. Thanks!