FAA Extends Environmental Impact Review of Elon Musk’s SpaceX Operation in Texas

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Friday (March 25th) that it will be extending its target date to complete an environmental review of Elon Musk’s proposed SpaceX Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket program in Boca Chica, Texas. 

At a Glance:

  • The FAA has extended plans to conduct an environmental review for the proposed SpaceX Starship spacecrafts and Super Heavy rocket program from March 28th to April 29th.
  • the FAA states there is no quarantee that SpaceX Starship and Super Heavy program will get licensing.
  • Both projects are occurring at the SpaceX launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

According to Reuters, the FAA’s new target date for Elon Musk’s SpaceX program and spacecraft review will take place on April 29th. It was originally to occur on March 28th. Although it will be completing the review, the FAA states that the completion does not guarantee that the projects will receive the proper licensing at that time.

Despite the extension, Elon Musk stated that even in the “worst-case” scenario, SpaceX does have a backup plan. The company will notably shift its entire Starship program to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This is where SpaceX has already received environmental approval. 

However, this backup will set the program back by six to eight months. SpaceX will still be shooting for a 2023 launch of what it calls the world’s first private lunar mission. Those onboard a Starship will loop around the moon and return to Earth. 

Elon Musk Is Highly Confident that SpaceX Starship Will Reach Earth’s Orbit For the First Time This Year

The FAA further explains that it is currently reviewing the final programmatic environmental assessment. It will be completing the consult and coordination with agencies at local, state, and federal levels. 

Elon Musk stated he’s “highly confident” that his SpaceX Starship will reach Earth’s orbit for the first time this year. He also said that he believes the spacecraft is the “holy grail” of space travel. “This is really some wild stuff her. In fact, hard to believe it’s real. Except you know, it’s right there.”

Elon Musk also discussed the point of the SpaceX Starship missions. “One of the rebuttals I will sometimes hear is, what about all the problems on Earth? I completely agree that the vast majority of resources should be dedicated to solving problems on Earth.”

Elon Musk further states that more than 99% of SpaceX’s resources should be focused on terrestrial challenges. But maybe half a percent should be space-focused. Musk then claimed that the cost efficiency of SpaceX is the best in history for rocket development. “We are talking about a rocket that’s more than two the mass and thrust of a Saturn V. From an environmental standpoint obviously it is also much better to build a fully reusable vehicle.”