SpaceX on Monday cleared a major hurdle in its plans to launch a huge, future rocket ship into orbit from Texas.
The Federal Aviation Administration has completed an environmental review of Elon Musk’s Starship Base. The agency did not see any significant environmental concerns, but more than 75 measures are needed to reduce the impact on the region.
There is no guarantee that a launch license will be issued because, according to the FAA, other factors such as safety and financial liability requirements must be met at the Boca Chica site.
Following the latest news, SpaceX tweeted: “One step closer to the test of the first orbital flight of the starship.”
At about 400 feet (120 meters), the starship is the most powerful rocket ever built and aims to take people to the moon and Mars. NASA plans to use it for the lunar landing of the space agency’s astronauts, which was not planned before 2025.
While SpaceX has launched the Starship’s bullet-shaped upper stage several miles (10 kilometers) into the air over the past year – resulting in some spectacular explosions – it still has to fly over the super-heavy booster.
Some residents opposed starship launches and landings, citing not only noisy and closed roads but also debris from failed flights. As part of the FAA report, the US Fish and Wildlife Service insisted on additional measures, but noted that the operations were not likely to endanger endangered species or their habitats.
The site is located on the southernmost tip of Texas, about 1,000 miles west of Cape Canaveral, where SpaceX launches astronauts and supplies the International Space Station to NASA.