SpaceX proposes to conduct Starship/Super Heavy launch operations from the Boca Chica Launch Site in Cameron County, Texas. SpaceX must apply for and obtain an experimental permit(s) and/or a vehicle operator license from the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation to operate the Starship/Super Heavy launch vehicle. The FAA's evaluation of a permit or license application includes a review of 1) public safety issues (such as overflight of populated areas and payload contents); 2) national security or foreign policy concerns; 3) insurance requirements for the launch operator; and 4) potential environmental impact. Read more about the history of the Boca Chica launch site and the location of the launch site.
The Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984, as amended and codified at 51 U.S.C. §§ 50901-50923, authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to oversee, license, and regulate commercial launch and reentry activities, and the operation of launch and reentry sites within the United States or as carried out by U.S. citizens. Section 50905 directs the Secretary to exercise this responsibility consistent with public health and safety, safety of property, and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States. In addition, Section 50903 requires the Secretary to encourage, facilitate, and promote commercial space launches and reentries by the private sector. As codified at 49 CFR § 1.83(b), the Secretary has delegated authority to carry out these functions to the FAA Administrator.
Founded in 2002, SpaceX is a commercial space transportation company headquartered in Hawthorne, California. SpaceX designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. SpaceX developed the Falcon 1 (no longer operational), Falcon 9, and Falcon Heavy vertical orbital launch vehicles, all of which were built with the goal of becoming reusable launch vehicles. SpaceX launches commercial and government payloads, including the Dragon spacecraft, which was recently used to send NASA astronauts to the International Space Station and bring them back to Earth. SpaceX is currently developing a new rocket, Starship/Super Heavy, with the goal of traveling to Mars. For additional information on SpaceX, please visit spacex.com.
The FAA is in the beginning stages of conducting an environmental review of SpaceX's Starship/Super Heavy proposal. As part of this environmental review, SpaceX is working with the FAA to prepare a draft Environmental Assessment (EA). The FAA is holding a public scoping period to assist the FAA in determining the scope of issues for analysis in the draft EA. The FAA is considering the preparation of a Programmatic EA for this effort.
Public Involvement Opportunities
The FAA requests public comments on potential alternatives and impacts, and identification of any relevant information, studies, or analyses of any kind concerning impacts affecting the quality of the human environment. Please include any comments on the preparation of a Programmatic EA. Please submit comments by January 22, 2021.
Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, be advised that your entire comment — including your personal identifying information — may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold from public review your personal identifying information, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
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