FAA gives SpaceX new requirements for launch from Texas • The Register
SpaceX is about to get a permit to launch not only its first rocket from Boca Chica, Texas, but also its reusable superheavy lifter.
And by one more step, we mean: the US Federal Aviation Administration has issued more than 75 requirements for SpaceX to meet, which aim to minimize the environmental impact of its launches on residents and wildlife.
These requirements [PDF], released Monday by the watchdog, lists a series of concerns and actions that SpaceX must take before it can hope to get the green light to use Boca Chica as planned. The FAA wants SpaceX to complete this environmental review and mitigate the effects of the repeated launch and landing of its giant reusable 120-meter spacecraft on air, water, climate, peace and quiet, and landing around from the launch pad.
Starship being SpaceX’s next-generation spacecraft that is both a super rocket and a spacecraft designed to carry far more cargo and people in and out of orbit and beyond than business rockets today today. The company wants to test the craft by putting it into orbit from the US Lone Star State, and has already made some modifications.
One step closer to the first orbital flight test of Starship https://t.co/MEcQ6gST6Q pic.twitter.com/jxqEsM62gc
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 13, 2022
SpaceX’s proposed Boca Chica launch site, dubbed Starbase, is close to a state park, beaches, wildlife refuge and the sea. Officials have asked the Elon-Musk-led company to donate a clear warning to people before she plans to launch a test flight, as you might expect, and insisted on a bunch of other protections.
For example, public access to Boca Chica State Park, parts of the Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge, and Isla de Brazos State Park will be restricted during launch and launch operations. landing so that no one comes down overhead sonic booms and overpressure.
“Any structural damage caused by a sonic boom would be minor, compensated by SpaceX in the event it occurs, and would not pose a risk to human safety,” the FAA document states.
SpaceX has also been instructed to work with a qualified biologist to minimize the effects of bright lights from its operations on sea turtles during their breeding season.
Fish, sea turtles and marine mammals are unlikely to be directly affected by debris falling from the sky. Sonic booms from the reusable engine landing are also unlikely to impact the ocean surface, we are told.
“Completion of the environmental review process does not guarantee that the FAA will issue an experimental permit or vehicle operator license to SpaceX for Starship/Super Heavy launches at the launch site,” the regulator added. “SpaceX’s license application must also meet FAA safety, risk, and financial accountability requirements.”
The conditions described in the report depend on SpaceX launching orbital test flights of its Starship rocket no more than five times a year. SpaceX tested its heavy lift vehicle a few times, but they didn’t fly far and exploded a few times.
The register asked SpaceX for comment. ®