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U.S FAA delays final environmental review of SpaceX Starship again

The final environmental review of the planned SpaceX Starship spaceship and Super Heavy missile program near Boca Chica, Texas, was again postponed on Tuesday by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). After multiple delays, the FAA extended the deadline for a decision to May 31 in late April, claiming it was “working on releasing the final PEA.” The FAA claimed in April that SpaceX had made significant modifications to its app that necessitated further investigation by the agency.

Elon Musk, the creator of SpaceX, said in February that the new SpaceX Starship, which is planned for voyages to the Moon and Mars, will enter Earth’s orbit for the first time this year. Even in the “worst-case” situation, Musk said SpaceX has a backup plan in case a complete environmental impact study is necessary or the legal fight over the matter drags on. Musk said that the company’s whole Starship programme would be relocated to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where SpaceX has already acquired the necessary environmental permission.

He went on to say that taking such a move would put him back six to eight months. In any event, SpaceX is still shooting the world’s first private lunar trip, which will send a spaceship around the moon and back to Earth in 2023. On Tuesday, the FAA received 17,000 comments. Concerns about the project’s effect on migrating birds, endangered animals, and the surrounding wildlife sanctuary were raised on this show.

In a letter to the FAA in November, the city of Port Isabel, Texas, expressed “severe concerns” about the “possible effect of excessive noise, vibration, and pressure,” and requested the agency to restrict the number of launches each year, as well as the time and circumstances under which they are authorized.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) states that successfully completing an environmental evaluation does not ensure the issue of a vehicle operator’s licence. Instead, the issuance of a licence is reliant on the applicant achieving FAA standards for safety, risk, and financial responsibility.

Source: Reuters

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Written by Alex Bruno

Freelance space writer Alex Bruno specializes in covering China's quickly expanding space industry. In 2021, he started writing for SpaceXMania. He also contributes to publications including SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. When Alex was a small child, he first experienced the space bug after seeing Voyager photographs of alien planets in our solar system. When not in space, Alex likes to go trail jogging in the Finnish countryside.

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