Energy

Elon Musk Lacks Gov’t Permit To Launch Rockets DAYS Before Planned Mission

(REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

SpaceX still hasn’t gotten approval from the federal government for a rocket launch that’s scheduled to take place sometime next week.

SpaceX doesn’t have a “license determination” from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), jeopardizing its NASA contract to lift supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) in February. No commercial space launch can take place without express FAA approval.

“The FAA is working closely with SpaceX to ensure the activity described in the application meets all applicable regulations for a launch license,” Hank Price, a spokesman for the FAA, told Universe Today. “The FAA will continue to work with SpaceX to provide a license determination in a timely manner.”

This launch has been moved back repeatedly from early January to some undetermined time between Feb. 14 and 17.

SpaceX successfully resumed launches in the middle of last month after an explosion set the company back. Musk’s company sent a flock of 10 Iridium data relay satellites into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. SpaceX successfully recovered the rocket booster on a droneship in the Pacific Ocean, marking a whole successful launch.

SpaceX’s business rivals at the defense contractor United Launch Alliance predicted it could take SpaceX up to a year to return to outer space after a devastating explosion Sept. 1 destroyed a rocket on the launch pad. Billionaire Elon Musk is the founder and CEO of SpaceX.

NASA’s Space Station Advisory Committee has serious concerns about the company’s safety standards however, and suggested that SpaceX review its policies even before the explosion. The company appears to have declined reviewing its policies.

SpaceX rockets have previously exploded several times during landing attempts, which Musk called a “huge blow.”

The Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) estimated that SpaceX must spend $120 million to replace the lost rocket, factoring in future revenue from reusing the booster and the costs of repairing the launch pad. The company could also be hit with a $50 million lawsuit from the telecommunications company whose satellite was destroyed by the rocket explosion. SpaceX declined to tell Forbes if SFF estimates were accurate.

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