SpaceX is still waiting for approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to perform the first orbital flight test of the Starship launch vehicle. The FAA is actively conducting a Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) of the company's Starbase facility located at Boca Chica Beach, Cameron County, Texas. The launch site is ready to support an orbital flight, however, the completion of the environmental review is required to ensure safe spaceflight operations in the sandy region that neighbors a public beach and U.S. National Wildlife Refuge wetlands. Once completed, SpaceX will have access to apply for an orbital Starship flight license.
The FAA has been conducting the assessment since June 2021 and delayed its completion three times which has caused the Starship debut orbital flight to be significantly delayed. The orbital flight is a crucial milestone to speed up the spacecraft’s development, it will allow engineers to see what technical aspects to improve and practice concept of operations. The FAA has set a new deadline to release the final assessment by April 29. "The planned April 29, 2022 release date will allow the FAA to review the Final PEA, 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," said the Administration.
On March 31st, The Mars Society shared via its website that 14 space advocacy organizations wrote a statement directed to the U.S. government and FAA to urge approval of SpaceX Starship operations. The 14 organizations are: The Mars Society, National Space Society, Earthlight Foundation, Alliance for Space Development, Space Development Foundation, Space Development Network, The Moon Society, The Mars Foundation, Space for Humanity, Tea Party in Space, For All Moonkind, The Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration, The Space Resources Roundtable, and The Space Development Steering Committee.
The 14 organizations' statement directed to the FAA: "The SpaceX Starship offers extraordinary potential benefits for the exploration and development of space by both the public and private sectors. It will enable many new commercial space ventures as well as dramatically lower the costs and raise the frequency of scientific missions that will provide amazing new knowledge about our universe and home planet. Its relatively clean environmental footprint, the large savings it offers U.S. taxpayers as a means of transport for government programs and missions and its ability to rapidly and regularly deliver satellite constellations and payloads to orbit will enhance national security, increase high paying jobs in the space sector, and propel American space leadership far ahead of any global competitors. Therefore we, the undersigned organizations, strongly urge the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other federal agencies to provide full approval to SpaceX to begin orbital test flights of the Starship at the earliest possible date."
“The organizations that have come together to make this statement represent every point of view within the space community," said Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin. "Whether one’s priority is settling Mars, developing space commerce, exploring the Moon, assuring national security, or gaining new knowledge of the Earth, the planets, or the universe, we all agree that it is vital that this program be allowed to move forward," he said. "There may be many more hurdles like this that SpaceX and others seeking to open the space frontier will face, but this statement shows that the often-fractured movement of space advocates can come together to help when it really counts.”
A group of 14 space advocacy organizations today published a joint statement urging rapid U.S. government approval of SpaceX’s #Starship test flights. For details, please visit: https://t.co/tavclRP7Ui. @FAANews @SpaceX @elonmusk #spaceflight #bureaucracy #government pic.twitter.com/pKI5jGVsng— The Mars Society (@TheMarsSociety) March 31, 2022
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