A bad hurricane season could be the next headache for businesses already facing a supply shortage

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Satellite imagery captures Hurricane Iota bearing down on Nicaragua as a Category 5 hurricane on November 16, 2020. NOAA/NASA

  • It will be another active year for hurricanes following 2020’s record-breaking season.
  • The storms could cause problems for already struggling supply chains like lumber, oil, and pork.
  • “It’s a significant risk that all businesses need to be thinking about right now,” said AccuWeather.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A bad Atlantic hurricane season may be the next disruption to the supply chain.

“It looks like another active year,” said AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter, “which is not good news.”

Items from lumber and housing supplies, to toilet paper and tampons, to gas and plastics, to pork and chicken, have been plagued by shortages caused by a sting of factors: Supply chains snarled in the coronavirus pandemic, backed-up ports, reverberations from the February Texas freeze, the Suez Canal blockage, worker scarcity, and the temporary shutdown of a vital oil pipeline, among other issues.

Though meteorologists aren’t predicting the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June through November, will be as record-breaking as 2020, they’re saying the number of named storms and hurricanes will be higher than in a normal year.

DTN, a Minnesota-based analytics firm, is predicting 20 named storms, compared to the annual average of 12. Of those, nine will be hurricanes, and four will be major hurricanes of category 3 or stronger. AccuWeather had similar predictions of 16 to 20 named storms, seven to 10 becoming hurricanes, and three to five to becoming major hurricanes.

The economic impact from last year’s hurricane season, which had six category 3 or higher storms, was about $60 to $65 billion in damage and losses, according to AccuWeather.

“The combination of another enhanced hurricane season and the threat of landfall across a big section of the East Coast of the US this year will be disruptive to the supply chain,” said Renny Vandewege, a leading weather expert at DTN.

Read more: Morgan Stanley says the stock market is flashing early warning signs of weakness as businesses face supply shortages. It recommends investors make these 4 trades to avoid the risks ahead.

Vandewege said the storms are more likely to favor the East Coast this year, compared to 2020, when the Gulf Coast felt a heavier impact.

The storms could “disrupt really anything that’s being imported in,” Vandewege said.

“We’re already having a months-long backup at the Port of Los Angeles, and then if we had also the same thing on the East Coast for an extended period of time, it could phenomenally exacerbate product shortages,” said Chris Wolfe, chief executive officer of logistics company PowerFleet.

Storms affect a state’s big industries, too. Along the Texas gulf coast, hurricanes can have an impact on the chemical and the oil and gas industries. A storm there could echo issues that arose from the Texas freeze in February and the six-day Colonial Pipeline shutdown that caused gas prices to surge and prompted some East Coast residents to panic-buy gas.

The forestry industry could be “deeply impacted” as well, Vandewege said. “There’s been shortage on building materials, and that could be enhanced even more if we’re seeing key manufacturing areas shut down around Louisiana and Alabama” because of a hurricane.

Pork, which is heavily produced in North Carolina and other southern states, has faced shortages in the past year, as well, thanks to the pandemic.

When hurricanes, like Florence in 2018, have struck the state in the past, thousands of hogs died. Other livestock and agriculture are also at risk when hurricanes hit.

“There’s huge pork production, chicken production, all the way through the South,” Wolfe said, so storms “could dirsupt food supplies.”

Porter from AccuWeather also noted that the West Coast could see another damaging wild fire season, and he said companies have to prepare ahead of time. “It’s a significant risk that all businesses need to be thinking about right now,” he said. “What’s their vulnerabilities and plan to mitigate.”

Climate change and extreme weather events topped the World Economic Forum’s list of biggest global risks in 2020. That was no surprise to Porter, who said, “people are getting negatively impacted almost on a daily basis by weather events. He said for businesses, the supply chain is a “major component” of that.

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GOP Rep. claims Capitol insurrectionists are ‘political prisoners’ held hostage by the government

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) speaks on House floor.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) speaks on House floor on May 14, 2021.

  • Rep. Louie Gohmert said Capitol rioters are ‘political prisoners’ held hostage by the government.
  • The Texas congressman made the remarks during a lengthy speech on the House floor on Friday.
  • Gohmert also said there was “no evidence” the Capitol rioters were armed.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas took to the House floor on Friday to downplay the January 6 Capitol riot, describing the insurrections as “political prisoners held hostage by their own government.”

“Joe Biden’s Justice Department is criminalizing political protest, but only political protest by Republicans or conservatives,” Gohmert said in his lengthy speech in which he cited several conservative news outlets, according to CNN. “They’re destroying the lives of American families, they’re weaponizing the events of January 6 to silence Trump-supporting Americans.”

Gohmert pointed to some defendants who are being held in jail in Washington awaiting trial, calling them “victims of an unequal system of justice in a country where rioters and looters on the left are let off the hook even considered heroes while those on the right are considered hardened criminals without any record before a trial can even begin.”

“Their only crime was supporting Donald Trump and concern about the fraud Democrats have been telling us about in elections for many years,” he added.

Since the insurrection, which resulted in the deaths of five people including a police officer, 479 people have been arrested and charged with crimes. Here is an updated list.

Gohmert also said there was “no evidence” that some of the rioters were armed. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin made a similar claim in an interview last month, The Hill reported.

“Armed meaning with firearms. There were no firearms,” Gohmert said.

His comments come as the House Homeland Security Committee on Friday announced a deal to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the insurrection.

Watch the speech below:

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How San Antonio-based CPS Energy is helping the city recover from the winter storm and making its energy systems more resilient

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CPS Energy installing residential solar panels.

  • CPS Energy is working to make energy and electricity more affordable and reliable in San Antonio.
  • Efforts include revamping infrastructure and increasing sustainability after the winter storm.
  • It’s also one of the city’s partners in its smart-city initiative to pilot smart streetlights.
  • This article is part of a series focused on American cities building a better tomorrow called “Advancing Cities.”

When a winter storm hit the state of Texas in February, millions of people lost power, including hundreds of thousands in San Antonio.

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The February 2021 winter storm.

Three months later, the city is still feeling the effects. Electricity bills have been much higher than usual, and the event highlighted the vulnerability of the power grid.

Long before the winter storm, CPS Energy, the electric utility for San Antonio and surrounding areas, had been surveying residents to understand what they considered most important. Affordability and reliability usually topped the list, with resiliency a lower priority, Paula Gold-Williams, the company’s president and CEO, told Insider.

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Paula Gold-Williams.

“Right now, we are in the middle of an affordability tsunami for customers,” she said. “Every time we surveyed them resiliency was always last. Most people thought that was something that the utility needed to focus on, not anything that would ultimately affect them.”

High natural-gas prices and systemic issues with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the organization that operates the state’s electrical grid, trickled down to residents across the state, Gold-Williams, a lifelong San Antonio resident, said. Texas is the only state to use its own power grid, meaning it doesn’t have to adhere to federal regulations.

The winter storm put resiliency at the forefront. Gold-Williams said the industry needs to reimagine power grids and revamp aging infrastructure. CPS Energy is also working with the city of San Antonio on sustainability and smart-city projects.

Here’s a look at some of their biggest initiatives.

It’s supporting measures to minimize the impact of the storm

Supply and demand issues have contributed to the high energy bills following the February storm. Extreme cold weather knocked out generating units and froze natural-gas stores, causing skyrocketing prices for natural gas, which CPS Energy uses to generate heat and electricity.

CPS Energy, which was established in 1860 and is owned by the city of San Antonio, has worked to minimize the effects on residents. Gold-Williams said they’re looking for ways to spread out the costs over the next decade.

The utility also issued one-time credits to residents who lost power for 24 hours during the storm of $8.75, the amount of a flat monthly service charge. Customers who were without electricity for 48 hours or more will receive an additional $50 to $100. More than 250,000 residents are eligible for the credits, which are costing a total of $3.5 million.

In March, CPS Energy filed a lawsuit against ERCOT for its “lack of oversight, preparedness, and failure to follow its own protocols that resulted in $16 billion in overcharges to market participants and customers,” a news release said. EROCT made a $16 billion pricing error the week after the winter storm and allowed the 30-day timeframe for corrections to pass.

Gold-Williams said the utility has been working to better winterize its plants for the past decade, but the state just wasn’t prepared for the unprecedented and prolonged freezing temperatures that it saw in February.

In response, President Joe Biden recently announced plans to devote $8.25 billion to modernize the nation’s electrical grid and support clean-energy goals, a move Gold-Williams applauds.

“We need innovation” in power generation and distribution systems, she said.

It’s piloting smart streetlights to save money

CPS Energy is one of the city of San Antonio’s partners in its smart-city initiative to launch more data- and technology-oriented projects.

“It’s helping us look at technology from an applied standpoint,” Gold-Williams said. “We’re trying to make things happen and not just talk about strategies.”

A Smart Streetlight Technology pilot recently debuted in partnership with the city, AT&T, and Itron. Existing CPS Energy lighting will be equipped with sensors in four areas of the city that allow them to be controlled remotely and test air quality, temperature, ambient noise, parking, and flooding.

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A smart streetlight.

The goal is to gather data to enable the city to save money and address community needs, Gold-Williams said. Research shows installing smart streetlights can save cities money and reduce energy use.

Based on what they learn from the data, the project will be expanded and scaled to the rest of the city.

It’s promoting renewable energy

One way CPS Energy is addressing aging infrastructure and sustainability in San Antonio is through the Flexible Path strategy, which aims to reduce coal and gas usage and increase renewable energy by 2040. This year, the utility is launching a “community-wide dialogue” for the strategy.

Renewable energy use in San Antonio increased 69% from 2010 to 2018, and will increase another 127% under the plan, according to CPS Energy. Gas usage will decrease 72%, and coal will be reduced an additional 61% after dropping 44% from 2010 to 2018. Other initiatives include expanding solar and wind resources and integrating battery storage and electric vehicles.

EV Charging
An electric vehicle charging station.

CPS Energy is currently evaluating request-for-proposal (RFP) responses for the FlexPOWER Bundle. The program will replace gas steam units that are near the end of their lifecycle and increase the number of solar resources, energy storage, and “all-source firming capacity,” or any technology that can be utilized when renewables aren’t available. The company plans to announce the projects selected this summer.

In March, the utility launched another RFP to develop the next phase of its Save for Tomorrow Energy Plan (STEP), focusing on conservation and energy efficiency. The FlexSTEP RFP aims to strengthen CPS Energy’s reliability by blending “Tried & True” programs, like rebates for being energy efficient, with “Innovative & New” solutions to help customers save money and learn new, more efficient energy-use behaviors.

The Flexible Path strategy emphasizes not relying on what’s been done before, being open to new ideas, and embracing technology and change, Gold-Williams said. Modernizing aging infrastructure and decreasing reliance on nonrenewable energy are issues utility companies worldwide are facing.

“We all have the same problems,” Gold-Williams said. “Our customers are trying to live their lives and they want it to be enabled by advances in technology. We have to embrace all that. We have to partner. We have a lot to learn from technology, but we have a lot to offer in terms of the complexity of our products and services.”

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SpaceX’s Starship rocket is set to splash-land into the ocean near Hawaii in its first flight around the Earth, FCC filings show

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Starship SN15 and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

  • The first orbital test of SpaceX’s Starship is set to launch from Texas and splash down off the coast of Hawaii.
  • The trip around the Earth is scheduled to take around 90 minutes, FCC filings showed.
  • The Starship rocket will launch on the Super Heavy booster, which will carry it into orbit, SpaceX’s filings said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

SpaceX is planning for its first Starship rocket orbital test flight to launch from Texas and splash down off the coast of Hawaii, according to the company’s filing to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday.

Over the past year, SpaceX has launched five prototypes of its Starship rocket into the skies. The first four burst into flames on landing, but the fifth test flight, with Starship serial No. 15, or SN15, proved successful. This allowed SpaceX to move to the next step of Elon Musk’s goal to reach Mars.

The company’s FCC filings said the test flight, comprised of the Starship rocket and a Super Heavy booster, would blast off from SpaceX’s launch facilities in Boca Chica, Texas. It did not give a projected launch date. The plan is for the booster to separate from the rocket nearly three minutes into the flight, and return to land roughly 20 miles from shore of the Gulf of Mexico.

Meanwhile, the Starship rocket is set to continue into orbit, the filing said. SpaceX plans for it to travel almost all the way around the Earth before plummeting back into the atmosphere, and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean around 62 miles off the northwest coast of Kauai, one of the Hawaiian Islands.

The orbital test flight should last around 90 minutes, the filing said.

Read more: SpaceX may want to launch 42,000 internet satellites – about 5 times more spacecraft than humanity has ever flown

The five prototypes the aerospace company has already launched were the upper stage of a two-part rocket system for Starship. Now that the 16-story upper stage is able to reach high altitude smoothly, SpaceX will add on a 23-story booster called Super Heavy.

The Super Heavy booster will try to heave the nearly 400 feet tall spaceship towards orbit.

SpaceX’s ultimate goal is for the Starship to carry humans into low-Earth orbit, to the moon, and to Mars, then return to Earth to repeat the journey again. In April, NASA awarded SpaceX an exclusive contract to land the first humans on the moon since 1972.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Police issue an arrest warrant for a YouTuber who got into SpaceX’s Texas launch site and filmed the Starship rocket

Elon Musk Starship
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk next to a Starship rocket prototype.

  • Police have issued an arrest warrant for a YouTuber who got into a SpaceX facility in South Texas in March.
  • Caesar L. Galaviz filmed himself walking around the SpaceX launch site, and got close to the Starship SN11 rocket.
  • The sheriff of Cameron County said an arrest warrant has been issued for Galaviz.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Police are looking for a YouTube creator who entered SpaceX’s launch site in South Texas and filmed close-up videos of SpaceX’s SN11 Starship rocket.

In late March, Caesar L. Galaviz got into the Boca Chica base of Elon Musk’s aerospace company without any security stopping him. He filmed himself wandering around the launch site and walking underneath the 16-story-tall prototype Starship. He then uploaded the video to his YouTube channel, which is called Loco VlogS.

Sheriff Eric Garza of Cameron County tweeted on Monday that police had issued an arrest warrant for Galaviz “for intentionally going onto the SpaceX property without their consent.”

Garza said Galaviz’s last known location was Conroe, Texas.

Galaviz recorded videos with the Starship prototype days before it burst into flames when landing during a test flight. The rocket was on stilts, so Galaviz couldn’t touch it.

This was the fourth Starship rocket to explode – but SpaceX’s most recent Starship test, on May 5, was successful.

Galaviz later deleted the video, which got five likes and 100 dislikes, but another YouTube account reuploaded the recording on March 31.

Galaviz posted an apology video on April 1, saying his actions were “wrong” and “illegal.”

“In my eyes, in that time of moment, I didn’t really think about that,” he said.

Galaviz told Insider in April that he entered the premises because he thought it would make a good video for his YouTube subscribers. “I hope that the SpaceX community can forgive me for my actions,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Kids held in a Dallas migrant shelter are reportedly hungry and begging volunteers for food

A security guard at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center checks in vehicles carrying basketball hoops Thursday, March 18, 2021, in Dallas. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is using he convention center as an emergency intake site to hold migrant teens who have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border.
A security guard at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center checks in vehicles carrying basketball hoops, March 18, 2021, in Dallas.

  • Migrant children held in a Dallas holding center are hungry and begging for food, The Daily Beast reported.
  • Other reports say the children are also depressed and advocates worry about their mental health.
  • “It’s disturbing,” one volunteer told The Daily Beast. “They are being treated like prisoners, and it’s insane.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

There’s concern that children at one migrant shelter in Dallas, Texas, are being inadequately fed, according to The Daily Beast.

Five volunteers told The Daily Beast migrant children held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas often said they were hungry and begged for food.

“Numerous children have told me they are hungry and have begged me for additional food even after they have had a meal,” volunteer and special education teacher Kirsten Chilstrom told the outlet. “The food quality is subpar at best.”

Another volunteer, Sam Hodges, said there are problems with rationing the food at the convention center.

Multiple reports painted a concerning picture of conditions at the shelter, which is one of several temporary federal shelters opened to migrants amid a surge at the US-Mexico border. CBS News reported that March counted a record of nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children reaching US custody and 5,767 minors held in custody. Since then, the number has fallen about 88% to 677 unaccompanied children in custody as of May 2.

Earlier this year, the public got a first look inside the facility after a congressional representative leaked photos to the media. One facility showed adults and children sitting in what appeared to be makeshift rooms separating out groups of people.

Each room was cordoned off by what looks like a plastic enclosure, drawing comparisons to jail cells. Dozens of masked children can be seen lying down on gray mats. Some were crowded into corners, despite the threat of the coronavirus spreading. Others appeared to sit on the floor.

Such conditions have caused lawmakers and human-rights experts to sound the alarms and argue that migrant children should have better treatment upon crossing the border.

NBC affiliate KXAS-TV reported that there are concerns related to the mental health of the children in the facility.

“A lot of the kids are stressed out, high anxiety levels,” local LULAC president Rene Martinez told KXAS-TV of the conditions inside. LULAC is a civil-rights organization focusing on supporting Latin American citizens. “There’s been a few fights,” Martinez said.

Other advocates told the Dallas Morning News that kids are being held with limited access to sunlight and there are children with depression.

“It’s disturbing,” Chilstrom told the Daily Beast. “They are being treated like prisoners, and it’s insane.”

The Dallas shelter is managed by a military contractor called Culmen International, the Daily Beast reported. But Culmen does not usually have any input into children’s welfare, according to the Daily Beast.

Culmen International did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. Neither did the Department of Health and Human Services.

But in a statement to the Daily Beast, the agency emphasized that the Dallas shelter provides temporary housing for migrants and said children receive meals and participate in recreational activities, among other things.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Elon Musk’s SpaceX acts ‘like they already own everything’ as the company reportedly buys up homes in a Texas village, preventing access to public roads and beaches

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The SN9 during static-fire testing in Boca Chica, Texas, on January 13, 2021.

  • Residents of Boca Chica, Texas, told the Wall Street Journal SpaceX acts like it owns “everything” in their village.
  • Several told the Wall Street Journal the company has attempted to buy their homes for offers they consider unfair.
  • Musk has said he wants to incorporate the village as part of a city called Starbase, Texas.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Residents of Boca Chica, Texas, a small village that sits just north of the US border with Mexico, say that Elon Musk’s company SpaceX “act like they already own everything” in the area around the site it uses to launch and test rockets.

There are 14 residents of Boca Chica who are not affiliated with SpaceX, according to a Wall Street Journal report. SpaceX has bought at least 112 parcels of land in Boca Chica, according to the report published Friday in the Wall Street Journal.

Seven people who spoke to the WSJ said they wanted more money from SpaceX and Musk to sell their properties than the company had offered them. David Finlay, the senior director of finance at SpaceX, told one couple it would explore a “different route” if they refused to sell their home willingly, the report said.

Read more: Tesla quickly went from tiny startup to world’s most valuable carmaker. These 13 leaders control its future.

He told another couple the company would “pursue alternative approaches” if they rejected SpaceX’s offer, according to the report.

SpaceX did not return Insider’s request for comment Saturday on the WSJ report.

Musk in March said he was interested in incorporating the area as Starbase, Texas. To incorporate the village as a town, SpaceX would need to show that there were at least 200 inhabitants, according to the WSJ.

“Please consider moving to Starbase or greater Brownsville/South Padre area in Texas & encourage friends to do so!” Musk said in one tweet. “SpaceX’s hiring needs for engineers, technicians, builders & essential support personnel of all kinds are growing rapidly.”

If successful, the town and its leaders would have access to eminent domain, which could allow them to legally force holdouts to sell their homes.

“They act like they already own everything, including you and your house,” Cheryl Stevens told the Wall Street Journal. She said she sold her home to the company in October last year because she could no longer deal with living near the launch site.

When launches don’t go according to plan, residents who remain told the outlet they experience broken windows, debris, and brush fires. While the company offers to put up residents in hotels in South Padre Island, a nearby resort town, residents told the WSJ that they have to pay for their own gas for the 40-mile trip.

Residents also complained about the company’s closure of state Highway 4 “often with confusing and inadequate prior notifications and last-minute changes and revocations,” according to the report.

State lawmakers in Texas in 2013 passed legislation allowing officials in Cameron County, where Boca Chica is located, to close public beach access for SpaceX launch activity, according to the report.

Closing the road prevents residents from accessing 8 miles of beach, National Wildlife Refuge, and land in a state park, the WSJ reported. The highway is the only road that leads to the village, according to the report.

Residents told the WSJ they felt that county officials were working with SpaceX to get them to leave their properties.

“We want SpaceX to succeed, but not at the expense of the community,” Cameron County Judge Eddie TreviƱo told the WSJ, denying those accusations. “If they think they’ll be able to take over the highway or the beach, they’re mistaken.”

Read the full report at the Wall Street Journal.

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SpaceX’s high-flying Starship prototype has finally landed successfully – a big step towards Elon Musk’s reusable mega-rocket

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The SN15 prototype stuck the landing (left), a big step towards becoming the reusable rocket Elon Musk (right) wants it to be.

On Wednesday, SpaceX sent the latest prototype of its mega-rocket system roaring six miles above Texas, its fifth such launch since December.

SpaceX is no stranger to Starship launches, but unlike the last four attempts, this prototype landed smoothly, without blowing up during its first 15 minutes back on Earth. A previous prototype exploded 10 minutes after landing, after a fire burning around its skirt wouldn’t go out. But this time, the fire at the prototype’s feet appeared to be extinguished.

“Starship landing nominal!” Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder, CEO, and chief engineer, declared on Twitter.

This version of the spaceship, called Starship serial No. 15, or SN15, followed the same trajectory as its predecessors. The 16-story rocket lifted off from SpaceX’s launch facilities in Boca Chica, Texas. As it approached the peak of its flight, the vehicle shut off two of its three truck-sized Raptor engines. It hovered at roughly 33,000 feet before cutting the final engine, then tipped sideways and plunged back to Earth. As it neared the ground, the engines reignited to flip the rocket upright, and then it lowered itself to the landing pad.

As of Wednesday afternoon, SN15 was still sitting upright and intact on the landing pad.

A final version of this mega-spaceship is set to become NASA’s next moon lander – the vehicle that could put boots on the lunar surface for the first time since 1972.

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An illustration of SpaceX’s Starship as a lander carrying NASA astronauts to the moon.

Musk has an ambitious vision for the launch system. The prototypes his company is launching are meant to be the upper stage of a two-part system. Eventually, a roughly 23-story booster called Super Heavy would heave the spaceship toward orbit. Musk wants this system to carry humans into low-Earth orbit, to the moon, and even to Mars, then return to Earth to do it again. The smooth landing of SN15 gets Starship a big step closer to being the reusable vehicle Musk wants.

“It’s a tough vehicle because we’re trying to crack this nut of a fully and rapidly reusable rocket,” Musk said in a NASA press conference on April 23. “Somebody’s got to do this. And if you have rapid and complete reusability, then that is the gateway to the heavens.”

SpaceX is building a booster that could carry Starship to orbit

The SN15 was the second of the five high-flying Starships SpaceX has launched that touched down in one piece – at least initially. The other was SN10, which landed in one piece in early March but blew up 10 minutes later. The first two Starship prototypes that soared to a high altitudes, SN8 and SN9, both slammed into the landing pad at high speeds and exploded immediately. Another, SN11, exploded in midair as it relit its engines for landing.

starship prototype explosions collage spacex boca chica spadre
From left to right: The SN8, SN9, and SN10 explosions.

SpaceX began assembling its first prototype of the Super Heavy booster – the other part of the Starship system – at its Texas facilities in mid-March. Musk said this version of Super Heavy is just for production testing, though the next prototype should fly.

To grasp the size of this launch system, look for the person standing on the lift in this photo Musk shared on Twitter. Starship, not pictured, would sit on top of that booster.

In addition to landing astronauts on the moon, Musk wants the Starship-Super Heavy system to power hypersonic travel on Earth. Ultimately, he has said, he plans to build 1,000 Starships that would carry people and cargo to Mars in order to establish a self-sustaining settlement.

Making Starship-Super Heavy reusable could slash the cost of reaching space by “a factor of 100 or more,” according to Musk. Its enormous size would allow it to carry large payloads to space, including tens of thousands of Starlink internet satellites that SpaceX plans to put into orbit.

In short, this is the launch system on which SpaceX is staking its future. But there are several hurdles to clear before it can reach space.

Environmental reviews could slow Starship’s journey to orbit

spacex starship super heavy spaceship booster rocket launch boca chica south texas illustration
An illustration of SpaceX’s planned 39-story Starship rocket system launching from Boca Chica, Texas.

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has already booked tickets for himself and eight others for a week-long Starship flight around the moon in 2023. The group is set to become the spaceship’s first passengers. After that, NASA hopes that Starship will return astronauts to the moon in 2024. But a report from the agency’s Office of the Inspector General suggested it’s “highly unlikely” NASA will meet that deadline.

In addition to successfully landing Starship prototypes, SpaceX will need to integrate the Super Heavy booster with the spaceship, learn to launch the two parts together, and show it can land the booster in one piece.

The company will also need to rocket a Starship into orbit to test its ability to reenter Earth’s atmosphere. That will require a new type of launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration, which involves many regulatory hurdles, including a thorough environmental assessment. Depending on the findings of that assessment, it’s possible SpaceX may need to conduct a new environmental impact statement, which could take up to three years.

Complicating matters is a leaked FAA draft document obtained by Insider that revealed SpaceX’s plans to dig natural gas wells and build gas-fired power plants in Boca Chica. Such plans could prolong SpaceX’s environmental review process.

Still, Musk maintains that Starship could fly its first people in “a couple years.” He has also said he is “highly confident” that SpaceX will launch an uncrewed Starship to Mars in 2024, followed by a crewed mission in 2026.

“I tend to be somewhat optimistic with respect to schedules. I feel I should acknowledge this,” he said in the NASA briefing. “So take that with a grain of salt. But I think it’s not out of the question that it could fly people in a couple years.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Watch SpaceX launch its newest Starship prototype. The last 4 exploded.

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Elon Musk (center) wants Starships to fly to Mars. But so far the only prototype to land successfully (left) exploded 10 minutes later (right).

Update: The SN15 prototype flew and landed successfully on Wednesday. Read more in our story.

SpaceX is about to launch its fifth high-flying Starship prototype on Wednesday afternoon. The spaceship is ready to lift off from the company’s Texas rocket facilities.

Known as Starship Serial No. 15, or SN15, the vehicle is the latest in a series of prototypes that SpaceX is launching up to 6 miles above Boca Chica, Texas. Eventually, a version of this Starship mega-spaceship is expected to become NASA’s next moon lander, which would put boots on the lunar surface for the first time since 1972.

The plan for the SN15 flight calls for the rocket to shut off its three truck-sized Raptor engines one by one as it approaches the peak of its flight. Then the spaceship should tip sideways and plunge back to Earth, using four wing flaps to control its fall. As it nears the ground, SN15 should reignite its engines to flip itself upright and gently lower to the landing pad.

That last step is where its four predecessors have failed.

starship prototype explosions collage spacex boca chica spadre
The SN8, SN9, and SN10 explosions.

The first two prototypes that soared to high altitudes, SN8 and SN9, slammed into the landing pad at high speeds and exploded immediately. The third, SN10, landed in one piece but blew up 10 minutes later. The fourth, SN11, exploded in midair as it relit its engines for landing.

Watch Starship’s flight live

SpaceX is set to stream live from the launchpad and from cameras inside the rocket’s skirt, where the engines are, starting at 5:20 p.m. CT.

A few rocket enthusiasts and fans of the company are also broadcasting live from Boca Chica.

The NASASpaceflight’s video stream offers knowledgeable broadcasters and multiple quality camera views.

The commentators on the feed keep track of preparations at the SpaceX facilities that indicate progress toward liftoff – things like clearing the launchpad, activity in the tank farm next to SN15, and the loading of liquid propellant into the rocket.

LabPadre, meanwhile, offers six unique views of the Starship launch site. That YouTube channel is run by Louis Balderas, who lives across the bay from Boca Chica. Below is its main 4K-resolution feed.

For a more distant view of the launch site – broadcast from the top of a resort in South Padre Island, about 6 miles away – check out SPadre’s 24-hour live feed.

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued an airspace-closure notice for the Boca Chica area to make way for launch on Wednesday. A Cameron County judge has also issued local road closures. Both closures end at 8 p.m. CT, so SpaceX must launch by then.

Airspace and road closures are both required for launch. But they can change day to day depending on SpaceX’s plans and FAA procedure. If SN15 does not fly on Wednesday, further closures indicate that SpaceX could try again on Thursday or Friday.

A series of Starship explosions

For SpaceX, explosions during rocket development are par for the course.

“They use a different development philosophy than the government does, which is: Fly. If something goes wrong, they try to fix it. Fly again. If something else goes wrong, they try to fix that,” John Logsdon, founder of George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute and a former member of the NASA Advisory Council, told Insider. “People have complimented SpaceX on how quickly they move.”

But, Logsdon added, “the fact that they’ve had these early development-program problems means that there will have to be a record of success before anybody except an extreme risk-taker is willing to get aboard.”

Success may be even more critical now that NASA has chosen Starship to land its next astronauts on the moon.

The agency announced earlier this month that it is working with SpaceX to turn Starship into a lunar lander as part of NASA’s Artemis program. NASA hopes to land its first crewed Starship on the lunar surface in 2024, though a recent report from the NASA Office of the Inspector General suggested it’s “highly unlikely” the agency will meet that deadline.

starship moon human landing system
Illustration of SpaceX Starship human lander design that will carry NASA astronauts to the Moon’s surface during the Artemis mission.

Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and CEO, recently predicted that Starship could fly its first humans “in a couple years.”

His goals for the launch system extend far beyond the lunar surface. Musk has said he plans to build 1,000 Starships to carry people and cargo to Mars. Ultimately, he hopes to establish a settlement there.

For now, though, SpaceX is trying to land the prototypes without blowing them up.

“Obviously we need to, like, not be making craters,” Musk said in a NASA press conference last month, referring to the explosions. “We’ve got some work to do, but we’re making rapid progress.”

This post has been updated with new information. It was originally published April 19.

Read the original article on Business Insider

SpaceX is preparing to launch its newest Starship prototype on Wednesday. The last 4 exploded.

elon musk starship thumb 4x3
Elon Musk (center) wants Starships to fly to Mars. But so far the only prototype to land successfully (left) exploded 10 minutes later (right).

SpaceX is getting ready to launch its fifth high-flying Starship prototype. The spaceship could lift off from the company’s Texas rocket facilities on Wednesday afternoon.

Known as Starship Serial No. 15, or SN15, the vehicle is the latest in a series of Starship prototypes that SpaceX is launching up to 6 miles above Boca Chica, Texas. Eventually, a version of this mega-spaceship is expected to become NASA’s next moon lander, which would put boots on the lunar surface for the first time since 1972.

The plan for the SN15 flight calls for the rocket to shut off its three truck-sized Raptor engines one by one as it approaches the peak of its flight. Then the spaceship should tip sideways and plunge back to Earth, using four wing flaps to control its fall. As it nears the ground, SN15 should reignite its engines to flip itself upright and gently lower to the landing pad.

That last step is where its four predecessors have failed. The first two prototypes that soared to high altitudes, SN8 and SN9, slammed into the landing pad at high speeds and exploded immediately. The third, SN10, landed in one piece but blew up 10 minutes later. The fourth, SN11, exploded in midair as it relit its engines for landing.

starship prototype explosions collage spacex boca chica spadre
The SN8, SN9, and SN10 explosions.

For SpaceX, explosions during rocket development are par for the course.

“They use a different development philosophy than the government does, which is: Fly. If something goes wrong, they try to fix it. Fly again. If something else goes wrong, they try to fix that,” John Logsdon, founder of George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute and a former member of the NASA Advisory Council, told Insider. “People have complimented SpaceX on how quickly they move.”

But, Logsdon added, “the fact that they’ve had these early development-program problems means that there will have to be a record of success before anybody except an extreme risk-taker is willing to get aboard.”

Success may be even more critical now that NASA has chosen Starship to land its next astronauts on the moon.

The agency announced earlier this month that it is working with SpaceX to turn Starship into a lunar lander as part of NASA’s Artemis program. NASA hopes to land its first crewed Starship on the lunar surface in 2024, though a recent report from the NASA Office of the Inspector General suggested it’s “highly unlikely” the agency will meet that deadline.

starship moon human landing system
SpaceX’s Starship human lander would carry NASA astronauts to the moon’s surface.

Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and CEO, recently predicted that Starship could fly its first humans “in a couple years.”

His goals for the launch system extend far beyond the lunar surface. Musk has said he plans to build 1,000 Starships to carry people and cargo to Mars. Ultimately, he hopes to establish a settlement there.

For now, though, SpaceX is trying to land the prototypes without blowing them up.

“Obviously we need to, like, not be making craters,” Musk said in a NASA press conference last month, referring to the explosions. “We’ve got some work to do, but we’re making rapid progress.”

How to watch Starship’s flight live

During the test flight, SpaceX is likely to stream live from the launchpad and from cameras inside the rocket’s skirt, where the engines are. During past Starship flights, the up-close cameras have provided stunning footage, like this clip of SN9.

SpaceX’s live feed of the SN15 launch will be embedded here once it becomes available. A few rocket enthusiasts and fans of the company also broadcast live from Boca Chica.

We recommend starting with NASASpaceflight’s video stream, given the broadcasters’ knowledge and multiple quality camera views.

The commentators on the feed keep track of preparations at the SpaceX facilities that indicate progress toward liftoff – things like clearing the launchpad, activity in the tank farm next to SN15, and the loading of liquid propellant into the rocket.

LabPadre, a YouTube channel from Louis Balderas, who lives across the bay from Boca Chica, offers six unique views of the Starship launch site. Below is the channel’s main 4K-resolution feed.

For a more distant view of the launch site – broadcast from the top of a resort in South Padre Island, about 6 miles away – check out SPadre’s 24-hour live feed.

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued an airspace-closure notice for the area to make way for launch on Wednesday. A Cameron County judge has also issued local road closures. Both closures end at 8 p.m. CT, so SpaceX must launch by then.

Airspace and road closures are both required for launch. But they can change day to day depending on SpaceX’s plans and FAA procedure. If SN15 does not fly on Wednesday, further closures indicate that SpaceX could try again on Thursday or Friday.

This post has been updated with new information. It was originally published April 19.

Read the original article on Business Insider