The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is conducting an Environmental Assessment of SpaceX’s Starbase facility located at Boca Chica Beach, in the southernmost tip of Texas. The assessment is to ensure safe spaceflight operations. It evaluates potential environmental impacts of SpaceX’s Starship/Super Heavy development program, which involves ground testing and launching up to 20 methane-fueled spacecraft annually. Completing an environmental review is required for SpaceX to apply for a Starship/Super Heavy flight license to conduct an orbital flight test that was planned for January or February 2022. Now, the first Starship will fly to orbit until no earlier than March because the SpaceX’s Starship launch site FAA environmental assessment completion was delayed until the end of February.
The FAA published an 152-page Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) documentthis year that detailed the Starship program’s potential impacts and invited the public to submit public comments to voice their concerns or support for SpaceX operations at Boca Chica Beach. The public had a month-long opportunity to submit a written letter via E-mail and/or participate in a virtual hearing to give their opinion on the Starship development program. The FAA received more than 18,000 written comments and around 120 oral comments during a pair of public hearings. Most were supportive comments coming from the United States and space enthusiasts from around the world. The Starship program also faced some opposition from local environmental groups because the launch site neighbors a U.S. National Wildlife Refuge.
Initially, the FAA had planned to complete the Final PEA in on December 31, 2021. They announced today, December 28, that it now plans to issue the Final PEA on February 28, 2022. The Administration said it is “due to the high volume of comments submitted on the Draft PEA, discussions and consultation efforts with consulting parties […].” “SpaceX, under the supervision of the FAA, is currently drafting responses for the over 18,000 public comments received on the Draft PEA,” they stated, “SpaceX is also preparing the Final PEA for the FAA’s review and acceptance. In addition, the FAA is continuing consultation and coordination with other agencies. The planned February 28, 2022 release date will allow the FAA to review the Final PEA, including responses to comments and coordinate with agencies at the local, State, and Federal level,” FAA representatives said in an E-mail. Meanwhile, you can watch SpaceX’s Starship launch pad progress Live 24/7 in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
VIDEO: SPACEX STARSHIP LAUNCH SITE LABPADRE LIVESTREAM
All Featured Images Source: FAA & SpaceX