City Annoyed When SpaceX Launch Coats It in Layer of Grime
“The locals here are just being sacrificed.”
At Boca Chica, Texas, all eyes were on the sky for the first orbital launch attempt of SpaceX’s Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built.
The launch would soon explode. But on the ground, the massive forces from the takeoff heaved a colossal cloud of dust and debris that traveled for miles, the New York Times reports, ultimately crossing paths with a nearby city.
That city was Port Isabel, which at over six miles away you’d think would be safe from the aftermath. You’d be wrong. Buildings were shaken, at least one window was shattered, and residents were left stunned.
“It was truly terrifying,” local Sharon Almaguer told the NYT, adding that “this was on a completely different level” to previous launches.
Valerie Bates, a Port Isabel spokesperson, added that the whole city “ended up with a covering of a rather thick, granular, sand grain.”
Closer to the launch site, where residents were evacuated, the effects were even more potent. One viral video shows a parked car getting nailed by a piece of debris kicked up by the launch.
“There were bowling ball-sized pieces of concrete that came flying out of the launchpad area,” YouTuber Louis Balderas told the publication, adding that the launch created a crater he estimated to be 25 feet deep.
While it appears that no one was harmed, Eric Roesch, an expert in environmental compliance, told the NYT that it’s impossible to know whether the dust and debris are harmful without a proper chemical analysis.
The fact that there’s even dust at all, Roesch maintains, shows that SpaceX screwed up its impact modeling, as this kind of aftermath “was not really disclosed” to the public, he said.
And as it turns out, the far-reaching aftermath of the Starship launch could’ve been avoided entirely, but SpaceX simply hadn’t taken the necessary steps to do so — a decidedly callous move towards the people that live in the area.
For sizeable spaceports like Cape Canaveral and the Baikonur Cosmodrome, it’s standard practice for big launches to have either a giant trench or what’s known as a water deluge system, which suppress heat and sound waves both for the rocket’s sake and for the purpose of shielding the surrounding environment.
But according to Roesch, SpaceX opted to implement neither measure.
“It appears they just went ahead and just launched this thing,” Roesch told the NYT.
As rocket fans may well know, Starship’s launch was long tied up and delayed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Ironically, when the FAA finally gave SpaceX its approval, it ruled that a Starship launch would “not significantly affect the quality of the human environment.”
Clearly something was overlooked between that process and the launch, and it doesn’t exactly inspire much confidence that SpaceX’s launches going forward will be much safer, though NASASpaceFlight reports that the company will be installing a deluge system beneath the launch site for future launches.
Depending on who you ask, SpaceX’s Starship launch was either a spectacular failure or a rousing success. To some nearby residents on the ground, though, it’s simply proved to be a potentially dangerous nuisance.
“The locals here are just being sacrificed,” Almaguer told the paper.
More on SpaceX: Debris Rains Down on Protected Wildlife After Starship Explosion
Air Canada says it gave ‘erroneous’ response on delays compensation – Global News
Air Canada says it will offer compensation to travellers who were affected by flight delays caused by technical problems in recent weeks.
The airline, which had initially faced questions over messages reportedly sent to passengers saying they would not be entitled to compensation, has said its earlier response was “erroneous.”
“Air Canada is offering compensation in line with APPR (Air Passenger Protection Regulations) compensation levels for flights which were affected by the IT outage. Some passengers had received erroneous responses from us, and we are in the process of recontacting them with the correct responses,” an Air Canada spokesperson told Global News.
Some passengers had received messages from the airline, saying the tech issues were out of its hands. The company has since said that message was an error.
A Transport Canada spokesperson told Global News that changes made to the APPR recently made compensation for passengers mandatory, simplified the complaints process and put the onus on airlines instead of passengers.
“We have been in touch with Air Canada, and they have assured us they will be compensating passengers whose flights were impacted by the recent IT issues,” Transport Canada spokesperson Nadine Ramadan said.
The country’s largest carrier has struggled with intermittent computer problems over the past 15 days.
On May 25, it delayed more than half its flights due to a “technical issue” with the system that the airline uses to communicate with aircraft and monitor their performance. On June 1, it delayed or cancelled more than 500 flights — over three-quarters of its trips that day, according to tracking service FlightAware — due to “IT issues.”
That same day, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra stressed the carrier’s compensation responsibilities to its guests.
Air Canada disruptions: continued delays, cancellations stir frustration among nationwide customers
“Air Canada has obligations to passengers who are impacted because it is caused by things that the airline has control over,” he told reporters June 1, hours after the IT issues resurfaced.
In April, Alghabra laid out measures to toughen penalties and tighten loopholes around traveller compensation as part of a proposed overhaul of Canada’s passenger rights charter.
If passed as part of the budget bill, the reforms will put the onus on airlines to show a flight disruption is caused by safety concerns or reasons outside their control, with specific examples to be drawn up by the Canadian Transportation Agency as a list of exceptions around compensation.
“It will no longer be the passenger who will have to prove that he or she is entitled to compensation. It will now be the airline that will need to prove that it does not have to pay for it,” Alghabra said on April 24.
Currently, a passenger is entitled to between $125 and $1,000 in compensation for a three-hour-plus delay or a cancellation made within 14 days of the scheduled departure — unless the disruption stems from events outside the airline’s control, such as weather or a safety issue including mechanical problems. The amount varies depending on the size of the carrier and the length of the delay.
— with files from the Canadian Press
More on Canada
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
WestJet shutting down discount airline Swoop – CBC News
WestJet is shutting down its budget airline, Swoop.
The company made the announcement in a news release Friday, noting that the ratification of its recent deal with its pilots allows it to integrate all of its staff at various airlines into a single banner.
“As negotiated in the collective agreement, the WestJet Group will now begin integration efforts of its ultra-low-cost airline, Swoop,” the airline said.
“Through an expedited process, the airline anticipates a full integration into its mainline operations by the end of October. To avoid traveller impact, Swoop will operate its existing network through to the end of its published schedule on October 28. Swoop employees will move to WestJet.”
The move comes as the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) announced its members had ratified their recent pact with the airline, one that brings in 24 per cent raises over four years, and puts Swoop pilots on a similar footing as WestJet’s in terms of seniority and compensation issues.
The union said 87 per cent voted in favour of the deal, “which goes a long way to recognizing the value and expertise the pilots bring to their airline and will help solve many of WestJet’s pilot attraction and retention issues.”
Swoop was launched nearly five years ago, in June 2018. It offered heavily discounted rates with few frills to cost-conscious travellers. A handful of other so-called ultra low-cost carriers have taken to Canada’s skies in recent years, including Flair, Lynx and Canada Jetlines.
While Swoop’s demise will remove a major player in Canada’s discount travel space, WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech says the airline will continue to offer affordable options.
“This integration will enhance our ability to serve a broader spectrum of guests,” he said. “Instead of only 16 aircraft serving the ultra-low-cost market, each aircraft, in our 180-strong fleet, will offer ultra-affordable travel options through to a premium inflight experience.”
But ultimately the news is a bad development for consumers, according to John Gradek, a lecturer at McGill University who studies the airline industry.
“It has implications in terms of the choices that Canadians will have in terms of an alternative ultra-low-cost carrier,” he told CBC News.
Although it started in 1996 as a regionally focused airline with generally cheaper prices, WestJet is no longer a discount airline, Gradek says. “The loss of Swoop basically eliminates a carrier that was specializing in low cost and it’s going to be a loss to Canadian travellers.”
More moves to come?
Gradek says it is not surprising to see WestJet make the move, as one of the main advantages of Swoop in the first place was its lower cost base.
“One of the conditions for creating Swoop was to have a different salary scale,” he said. “With the ALPA agreement that differential that allows you to have some competitive advantage price wise disappears.”
Gradek says he would not be surprised to see WestJet do something similar with another discount airline it recently bought, Sunwing.
“WestJet has choices — they’re now looking at Sunwing and that’s the next shoe that’s going to fall,” he said. “how far do you take this integration that started with Swoop — do you do the same thing with Sunwing?”
GM and Ford to use Tesla’s plug, all but killing CCS in North America
Rival auto manufacturers GM and Ford have signed on to use Tesla’s NACS charging connector for their future electric cars in North America, a decision that has effectively signed the death certificate for the competing CCS1 charging connector standard.
We’re still in the early days of electric vehicles, but the rate of adoption is rapidly increasing as more manufacturers produce EVs in different shapes and sizes and prices, and as customers buy them up with vigor. And so there is a lot of jockeying happening not just for buyers, but for infrastructure to support them. The most interesting bifurcation has happened in charging standards with the division led primarily by Tesla.
Back in 2012 when Tesla unveiled its all-electric Model S sedan it did so with a new charging connector. At the time it was a proprietary connector, but it was already much more impressive and elegant than the highly engineered J1772 standard connector or almost comically bulky CCS1 and CHAdeMO standards that also offered DC charging. Tesla’s connector did all of that in a fraction of the footprint, with far less complexity in design or use. Yet, for the past decade, Tesla’s been trucking along with their own connector in North American markets while all other manufacturers remained committed to CCS1.
(Tesla was mandated by law to use the Type 2 IEC 60309 and CCS2 connectors for cars sold in Europe, and the GB/T connector in China)
Tesla accounts for more than half of DC fast chargers in the USA — surely a selling point for Ford and GM
This led to the bifurcation of the US EV market, with Tesla leading in electric car sales ever since their first cars went on sale, and leading in the deployment of chargers with their expansive but exclusive Supercharger network. Tesla’s head start in charger installation gets us to where we are today, with Tesla’s Superchargers accounting for more than half of the DC fast chargers installed in the USA.
That’s all started to change. It began with the relatively quiet November 2022 announcement from Tesla that they were opening up the Tesla charging connector to other manufacturers as the NACS — the North American Charging Standard. But the big news arrived late last month with Ford switching to the Tesla NCAS connector in 2025. And now today, chief American rival GM revealed they are also adopting NACS. Both plan to make adapters for the existing CCS-equipped chargers, and Tesla already sells their own CSS adapter, and also has equipped a handful of its own Tesla-plugged charging stations with adapters to support CCS vehicles.
Tesla, Ford, and GM today account for roughly 3/4 of all EV sales in the USA and the top three sales spots. This is a tipping point for EVs in the USA and thus North America — in the span of a few months Tesla’s NACS connector went from proprietary to the winning option. There are still other EV manufacturers that remain publicly committed to the CCS connector, including VW, Mercedes, Kia, and Rivian. Ford and GM are huge swings for NACS and will almost certainly lead to other companies adapting the standard.
Certainly, charging companies like Electrify America and ChargePoint are also going to race to install NACS connectors in the next two years so that the fleets of differently receptacled EVs can utilize their currently CCS-only chargers. Tesla will also have to invest in upgrading their existing charger stations with longer cables, though, since they’re basically the only manufacturer placing their charging port at the corner of the car. Charging a Ford F-150 at one of those adapter-equipped stations didn’t go so well because of the short Supercharger cables.
GM’s adoption of NACS signals the end of the line for CCS1. The standards body made some angry noises when Ford jumped ship, but the loss of GM means they no longer have America’s largest auto manufacturer and popular and well-known brands like Chevrolet, GMC, Ram, Buick, and Cadillac. Alas, CCS1, few people even knew your clunkiness. NACS will reign supreme from here on out.
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