HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) – Proposed expansions of the SpaceX launch site at Boca Chica have been halted by the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) until the aerospace company can provide adequate information.
In a letter viewed by The Verge, the government agency explains that they are closing a permit application for expansion of the Boca Chica launch site.
Just over a year ago, the plans for SpaceX’s proposed expansion were made public and showed the extent of their development plans. The plans required modification to the existing permit, which was given in 2014 and amended several times since, for the continued development of the launch site, according to a Public Notice put out by the Corps.
The expansion would include the addition of “test, orbital, and landing pads, integration towers, associated infrastructure, stormwater management features, and vehicle parking.”
The notice cites that the expansion would impact “10.94 acres of mud flats, 5.94 acres of estuarine wetlands, and 0.28 acres of non-tidal wetlands,” for which the Corps says SpaceX provided mitigation plans to minimize the disruption.
Some of the proposed structures, like one of the colossal launch towers, have already been developed, despite warnings from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Corps opened a public comment period for the proposed expansion that ended in April 2021 and then provided SpaceX with a letter outlining the comments so that they could address them, according to reporting by The Verge. SpaceX should have provided the Corps with those mitigation plans but has not done so.
On March 7 of this year, the Corps sent SpaceX another letter saying “the Corps has not received the public interest review or a compensatory mitigation plan. The Corps did receive a response to comments and an alternative analysis on October 7, 2021, and have concluded that the overall project purpose and siting criteria are so restrictive as to constrain the range of alternatives that must be considered under the 404(b)(1) Guidelines.” And because of this, they have withdrawn SpaceX’s application.
The application can be re-initiated by submitting a response addressing the comments and concerns that were gathered last year. At the moment, it is unclear if SpaceX has plans to do so.
In February, Elon Musk gave a presentation on the Starship program at the Boca Chica site and told the public that further delay in the project at Starbase would cause focus to be shifted to Florida.