FAA Extends Environmental Assessment of SpaceX Boca Chica Launch Site (Again)


SpaceX will have to wait even longer to find out if it can launch Starship flights from its Boca Chica facility in Texas. The US Federal Aviation Administration has again postponed its decision on the environmental assessment of the launch site, pushing the target completion date to April 29. SpaceX must receive FAA approval, along with a vehicle license, to launch Starship missions from Boca Chica as planned.

More precisely, the agency is investigating whether launching the massive reusable vehicle from the facility will have a significant environmental impact on the area and pose a threat to public safety. The original target date for completion was December 21, 2021, but the date was moved to February 28, 2022 and then back to March 28. On its official environmental assessment page, the FAA said it is updating its target date to April 29 “to take into account further review of comments and ongoing inter-agency consultations.” The FAA received 19,000 responses to the draft review published last year.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk recently revealed that the company hopes to send Starship into orbit for the first time in May. If the FAA completes its assessment on time, and with a favorable outcome for the company, there is a chance that the launch could take place in a few months. It’s worth noting, though, that Musk’s timelines may be a little too optimistic.

In the event that the Boca Chica site fails the FAA’s environmental assessment or the agency issues an environmental impact statement (EIS) to dig deeper into the company’s plans in the coming years, SpaceX could switch to its backup site. up plan. During a Starship presentation earlier this year, Musk said SpaceX already has approval to launch the Starship from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The move would delay the vehicle’s maiden flight by six to eight months as the company has to build a launch tower at the launch site, but at least the wait wouldn’t be years.

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