SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has gone to war with the FAA after the agency denied the company permission to launch its SN9 prototype deep space rocket as scheduled on Jan. 28. The agency issued a last-minute notice about five hours before the scheduled launch and said it was rescheduled until the following day. The delay launched a Twitter tirade from Musk, who clearly laid the blame on the agency. “Unlike its aircraft division, which is fine, the FAA space division has a fundamentally broken regulatory structure,” Musk tweeted. “Their rules are meant for a handful of expendable launches per year from a few government facilities. Under those rules, humanity will never get to Mars.” The rocket still hasn’t launched and may go Feb. 1.
The dispute seems to stem from the launch and subsequent spectacular explosion of the previous prototype, which reached its targeted altitude, properly transitioned to a flat attitude for descent but didn’t stick the landing. The agency reportedly determined that launch violated SpaceX’s launch license and wants to ensure there are no further violations. “While we recognize the importance of moving quickly to foster growth and innovation in commercial space, the FAA will not compromise its responsibility to protect public safety,” FAA spokesman Steve Kulm said in a statement to the Verge. “We will approve the modification [to the launch license] only after we are satisfied that SpaceX has taken the necessary steps to comply with regulatory requirements.”