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
The FAA has extended the public comment period for the Draft PEA to November 1, 2021. The FAA invites interested agencies, organizations, Native American tribes, and members of the public to submit comments on all aspects of the Draft PEA.
- Comments or questions on the Draft PEA can be addressed 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.
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.
The FAA held two virtual public hearings to solicit comments from the public concerning the scope and content of the Draft PEA. The hearings were held October 18 and October 20, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. Central Time.
The FAA provided a Power Point presentation in English and Spanish. Afterwards, members of the public provided oral comments. The presentations will be posted on this website after the public hearing. If you were unable to attend the public hearing, you can still provide a comment through: email@example.com.
The Power Point slides from the hearing are now available in English and Spanish. Please click here to view the Power Point materials in English (PDF). Please click here to view the Power Point materials in Spanish (PDF).
We will post the transcriptions from each hearing on this webpage in the near future.
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