Texas Governor Greg Abbott plans to fight for SpaceX federal approval to launch Starship from Starbase Boca Chica

Texas Governor Greg Abbott plans to fight for SpaceX federal approval to launch Starship from Starbase Boca Chica

Featured Image Source: J. Arevalo @JaneidyEve via Twitter

SpaceX is developing the Starship launch system at its Starbase facility, located on the tiny sandy village of Boca Chica Beach, Texas. SpaceX activities in the region have attracted hundreds of tourists to the public beach, the City of Brownsville, and neighboring South Padre Island. SpaceX has performed multiple high-altitude test flights of Starship prototypes since 2019 and is preparing to conduct the first-ever flight to outer space. However, the company is facing delays to obtain federal approval to continue launching from Boca Chica. 

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently performing an environmental assessment of the Starbase launch site to ensure that spaceflight operations do not affect the local wildlife and communities. A portion of Boca Chica Beach is a U.S. National Wildlife Refuge and a historical landmark. The FAA must complete the assessment in order for SpaceX to apply for a Starship flight license. The Administration has delayed the assessment's completion multiple times, it has been conducting the review for around 9 months. The latest target date to complete the assessment is April 29. "The planned April 29, 2022 release date will allow the FAA to review the Final PEA [Programmatic Environmental Assessment], including responses to comments, and complete consultation and coordination with agencies at the local, State, and Federal level. All consultations must be complete before the FAA can issue the Final PEA," the FAA stated.

SpaceX is facing a new hurdle though, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suspended a SpaceX application that proposes to expand the Starbase facility because it claims the company did not provide some information it requested. The application process will resume when they submit more information. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott plans to fight for SpaceX federal approval to launch Starship from Boca Chica. "What I am going to do if Biden interferes with the ability of SpaceX to launch from Boca Chica; I am going to be working every step of the way to make sure that they are going to be able to launch from Boca Chica," said Abbott, according to Rio Grande Guardian news. Governor Abbott shared he conversed with SpaceX’s Starbase Director of Operations Sam Patel, who leads Starship operations. "We heard the vision from Mr. Patel himself about what they are working on and our job is to make sure they are able to achieve their vision," said Abbott, "And I have worked with Elon Musk very closely with regard to Tesla and the Gigafactory in Austin, Texas. And we will be working with him very closely, every step of the way in Boca Chica for the future of SpaceX. We want that future and that vision to come from Boca Chica, from Brownsville, Texas." Read more: Elon Musk's Tesla Gigafactory Texas Cyber Rodeo Party Was Incredible –Cars, robots, music, bull riding, drone show, even a tattoo parlor & petting zoo!

SpaceX founder Elon Musk's vision to return humanity to the Moon and launch the first astronauts to Mars continues in spite of challenges. The company is still conducting ground tests with Starship/Super Heavy rocket prototypes at Boca Chica and continues to manufacture more test vehicles at the Starbase rocket factory. SpaceX also started the construction of a Starship launch tower at NASA's Kennedy Space Center to support crewed missions in Florida, which could also enable the company to proceed with Starship development testing amid the Texas approval delays. "I am inspired by curiosity. That is what drives me. So let us expand the scope & scale of consciousness so that we may aspire to understand the Universe," says Musk. 

Featured Image Source: J. Arevalo @JaneidyEve via Twitter

About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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