SpaceX Texas Launch Site Delayed Again by FAA
Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. will have to wait longer to learn whether U.S. regulators have approved launches of its massive Starship rocket from a Texas facility.
Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. will have to wait longer to learn whether U.S. regulators have approved launches of its massive Starship rocket from a Texas facility.
The Federal Aviation Administration is attempting to complete its environmental assessment of the launch site by May 31, the agency said in an emailed statement Friday. The review was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021, but has now been delayed four times.
“SpaceX made multiple changes to its application that require additional FAA analysis,” the agency said.
The Boca Chica location is where the fully reusable Starship system is assembled, and the rapidly growing facility is key to the company's plans to use the rocket to take humans to the moon and Mars. SpaceX also hopes to use the launch facility for its other commercial space efforts.
But it's located near a national wildlife refuge that is home to sea turtles and migratory birds. A coalition of 11 environmental groups signed a public letter in November asking the FAA to scrutinize SpaceX's proposed expansion in the area.
The FAA has received about 18,000 comments from the public on the environmental impacts and is continuing to review them.
One reason for the delay has been SpaceX's continued tweaking of the Starship design, said a person familiar with the issue who wasn't authorized to speak about it. As the design has evolved, the FAA has been forced to revise its analysis of the environmental impacts, the person said.
SpaceX didn't immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.