The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has extended the period for public comment on the environmental impact of SpaceX’s proposed Starship/Super Heavy project.
The period for public comments on the draft environmental assessment for the project in Boca Chica, Texas, is now open until November 1, 2021, the FAA announced on September 30, 2021. The public comment period was previously open only until October 18, 2021, corresponding to the usual 30 days after the publication of the draft assessment.
SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, already has a launch site at Boca Chica, but must obtain an experimental permit and/or a vehicle operator license from the FAA to operate the Starship/Super Heavy launch vehicle. Obtaining such permits first requires an environmental review, which the FAA is leading.
The Starship/Super Heavy program would build on the capabilities of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles, providing more cost-effective delivery of cargo and people to the Moon and Mars.
“SpaceX’s proposal would satisfy requirements for more efficient and effective space transportation methods and continue the US goal of encouraging activities by the private sector to strengthen and expand US space transportation infrastructure,” the FAA notes in its draft assessment.
The FAA says in the draft assessment that its preferred alternative is to issue one or more experimental permits and vehicle operator licenses to SpaceX, which would allow the launch and landing of Starship/Super Heavy.
The SpaceX launch vehicle comprises two reusable stages – Super Heavy is the first stage, also known as the booster, and Starship is the second stage. Together, they make up a launch vehicle that is expected to be approximately 400 feet tall and 30 feet in diameter.