SpaceX’s plans to increase launches to 120 times a year outraged Blue Origin and ULA

SpaceX’s ambitious plans to launch Starship rockets up to 44 times a year from Kennedy Space Center are causing concern among competitors. Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance have called on regulators to pay attention to the fact that Elon Musk’s company is effectively taking all the free windows for future private rocket launches. Blue Origin even proposed to limit the launch of Starship for a certain period of time and give other suppliers the right to book launches in case of a conflict with launches.

The launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX has even more ambitious plans for the SLC-37 launch pad at Cape Canaveral. The historic SLC-37 launch pad, which launched the Saturn V rocket in the 1960s and more recently the Delta IV rocket series, is currently inactive. However, Elon Musk’s private space company plans to restore the site and use it to increase launches to 76 per year.

Environmentalists are sounding the alarm

But SpaceX’s plan has also worried environmentalists, as such a number could have a major impact on the local environment. The US Space Force is preparing a draft environmental assessment that will take into account how the launches will affect the local flora and fauna.

The Federal Aviation Administration is also preparing a separate environmental assessment for Starship launches from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center. Both studies will evaluate the environmental impact of Starship launches and landing operations, which involve the return of super-heavy boosters to the launch pad.

Four launch sites and 120 launches per year

The environmental impact statement for SLC-37 also considers the alternative of building a new launch pad, SLC-50. Significant construction work is likely to be required, including the construction of water drainage ponds, fuel tanks, and a recovery tower. If both sites become operational, it will help SpaceX to make up to 120 launches a year.

SpaceX Starship
The fuselages of SpaceX Starship spacecraft. Photo:

The two launch pads in Florida will join the existing Starship launch tower at the SpaceX Starbase launch complex in Texas and the second tower under construction at the same location. In total, SpaceX may have four operational launch sites for Starship launches. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk plans to use his mega rockets to colonize Mars and other parts of the solar system. The goal is to launch Starships several times a day, delivering hundreds of tons of cargo into orbit.

Concerns of Blue Origin and ULA

Blue Origin and ULA have expressed concerns about the impact of SpaceX’s frequent launches on other launch operations in the region. ULA says that even a single Starship launch could disrupt other launch operations and cause significant environmental impact. Blue Origin, which plans to launch the New Glenn rocket from LC-36, is proposing a number of measures to reduce the launches of its main competitor.

Earlier, we reported how Starlink is destroying the ozone layer, which was supposed to be restored by 2066.

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