The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completed a long-awaited environmental review of SpaceX’s Starship rocket program in Boca Chica, Texas on Monday.
The FAA determined that SpaceX’s plans for the facility “would not result in significant environmental consequences” and issued a “Mitigated Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision (FONSI/ROD)” to the aerospace company.
The approval paves the way for SpaceX to launch Starship on its first orbital flight from Texas to Hawaii, however there are still has a number of hurdles to clear before it can obtain a launch license.
Despite the FAA’s findings, an update on their website explains SpaceX must take more than 75 mitigation actions before it can receive its launch license. These include plans to better protect water resources, limit noise levels, and biohazard materials control.
The publishing on the Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment (Final PEA) comes more than a year and a half after the process first began. The FAA delayed the final assessment nearly a half dozen times to give itself more time to review feedback.
If Tesla faces more delays in obtaining the launch license, it may move Starship’s first orbital flight to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.
However it is not smooth sailing for SpaceX in Florida either, as NASA has expressed concerns about potential damage to Launch Pad 39A, which it uses to reach the International Space Station (ISS), should Starship meet a similar fate as some of the earlier prototypes that exploded on the launch pad.
SpaceX begins construction of Starship launch tower at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center