SpaceX FAA environmental review approaching completion

SpaceX

Sundown at the Starbase SpaceX launch site, July 14. [Gaby Moreno]

HALRINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) – The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) environmental review for the SpaceX Starship Super Heavy Project at the Boca Chica launch site is approaching completion according to the agency.

The environmental review process for SpaceX launch operations at the Boca Chica site is expected to be complete by December 31, 2021.

The aerospace company must obtain permit(s) and/or a vehicle operator license from the government agency in order to operate the Starship Super Heavy vehicle from the Boca Chica site.

Once consultations are complete, the FAA will come to a decision and issue a document that will include a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or initiate an environmental impact statement.

Completion of the environmental review does not guarantee that SpaceX will be granted the necessary permits or license. However, if in favor of SpaceX, the aerospace company may proceed with plans of an orbital launch from the Boca Chica site as early as the first quarter of 2022.

In September, the government agency released a Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment (Draft PEA) for review and public comment. The 151 page document outlines proposed operations at the south Texas launch site, affected environment and environmental consequences, and plans for mitigation.

In mid October, the government agency opened up a virtual public hearing regarding the Draft PEA, where comments regarding the matter could be expressed.

Nearly 100 local residents and non-local residents, scientists and engineers, activists, and representatives from local indigenous tribes voiced reasons why SpaceX should or should not be permitted to continue operations as proposed in south Texas. 

The last to comment during the virtual hearing was Brownsville District 2 City Commissioner, Jessica Tetreau, who begged the agency to grant SpaceX the necessary permission to launch.

“I don’t just ask you, I beg you to give them that permit,” said Tetreau. “There are people who don’t understand and appreciate this project.”

While the aerospace company is months away from even being able to launch the Starship vehicle as they continue to work on the “chopstick” mechanism that will catch the Starship booster, Musk has put pressure on the government agency to make a decision through Tweets and displays of man power.

Back in July, Musk ordered hundreds of workers from other SpaceX sites to temporarily relocate to the area to further the Starship project. By August, the company was able to stack Starship 20 atop the Super Heavy B4 booster, making it the world’s largest spacecraft.

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