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.
Programmatic Environmental Assessment
The FAA has released the Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment for the SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy Launch Vehicle Program (Draft PEA) for review and comment.
A copy of the September 2021 Draft PEA is available here for download.
- Executive Summary of the Draft PEA – in English (PDF)
- Executive Summary of the Draft PEA – in Spanish (PDF)
- Draft PEA for SpaceX Starship Super Heavy at Boca Chica (PDF)
- Appendix A. References (PDF)
- Appendix B. Noise Assessment (PDF)
- Appendix C. National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 Consultation (PDF)
- Appendix D. Endangered Species Act Section 7 Consultation (PDF)
- Appendix E. Department of Transportation Act Section 4(f) Consultation (PDF)
- Appendix F. Viewshed Supporting Images (PDF)
- Appendix G. Exhaust Plume Calculations (PDF)
Hardcopies of the Draft PEA are also available for review at the following locations:
- Brownsville Public Library, Main Branch located at 2600 Central Blvd, Brownsville, TX 78520
- Brownsville Public Library, Southmost Branch located at 4320 Southmost Road, Brownsville, TX 78521
- The Dancy Building County Judge Office located at 1100 E Monroe St Suite 218, Brownsville, TX 78520
Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment Public Review and Comment Period
Please submit comments by October 18, 2021.
- Comments should be mailed to Ms. Stacey Zee, SpaceX PEA, c/o ICF, 9300 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22031
- Comments may also be submitted by email to SpaceXBocaChica@icf.com
The FAA will hold two virtual public hearings to solicit comments from the public concerning the scope and content of the Draft PEA on October 6 and October 7, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. CST. Following the presentation, members of the public can provide oral comments. Additional information regarding the virtual public hearing, including instructions for joining, will be posted to this site by October 4, 2021.
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