FAA delays completion of Starship environmental review, orbital test flight pushed back until at least March 2022

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) needs to delay its environmental review of SpaceX Starship orbital launches from Boca Chica, Texas.

The administration informed SpaceX on December 28 that they would be unable to meet the original December 31, 2021 deadline.

The environmental review is a key requirement for obtaining an FAA launch license. However,  the FAA is delaying the Final report’s release until February 28. 2022. This is due to the number of comments on this specific Programmatic Environmental Assessment.

According to the FAA, the administration received more than 18,000 public comments on the draft version of the report released in September. SpaceX is working to respond to those public comments under FAA supervision.

However, neither SpaceX nor the FAA provided additional details about the analysis of the comments.

Elon Musk confirmed in a tweet this morning the delay would push Starship’s first orbital flight to at least March 22.

Delays like this are not unheard of for the FAA. In fact, an environmental review of the proposed launch site in Camden, Georgia, suffered several delays before the site was awarded its spaceport licence.

SpaceX did not provide additional information on the process or when the company would complete an orbital launch from the Boca Chica site once approved.

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