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Why Has SpaceX's Starship Sparked Another Controversy

Roesch joined the May 5, 2023 episode of Planetary Radio: Space Policy Edition to talk with host Casey Dreier about where he thinks SpaceX and the FAA went wrong in their approach to environmental protections, the tensions between progress and conservancy, and how NASA's Kennedy Space Center is an example of the right way to approach environmentally responsible spaceflight.

Casey Dreier: A few weeks ago you published a piece called "SpaceX's Texas Rocket is going to cause a lot more damage than anyone thinks." And congratulations, your analysis was proven true I suppose. Is the right way to do it to have a private company come in, buy 20 acres and say, "Deal with the consequences"? I don't think so. What is the proper responsibility, do you think? Or is Boca Chica incompatible with the type of exploratory rocketry that SpaceX wants to do, from an environmental regulatory perspective?

To be frank with you, it's struck me that I think SpaceX realizes this as well. On a more basic level, I think the big thing is the dust cloud we saw. We've talked about SpaceX, we've talked about the FAA. Where do you see NASA's responsibility in this whole situation? Do you think they should impose more stringent environmental requirements on their contractors from the top? Do you think NASA has an ethical or just social responsibility here that they're not exercising?

Eric Roesch: I think it actually is more on NASA, because I think they've got the ability to do it. You can actually see every single project, every single decision they make, every single comment they make to a person asking, "What if this rocket lands and kills a blue whale?" I think NASA is more than equipped to do this from a cultural standpoint; having the right culture is a huge part of complying with the laws.

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