2022 – A final environmental decision by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expected from SpaceX on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Spacecraft prototypes are photographed at the SpaceX South Texas launch site in Brownsville, Texas, on May 22, 2022. The image was taken on May 22, 2022. Photo: Veronica J. Cardenas/Reuters

Written by David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will complete an environmental review of the proposed SpaceX Starship spacecraft and superheavy rocket program in Boca Chica, Texas, early Tuesday.

In late April, the FAA extended the target date for a decision until May 31, saying it was “working on issuing the final PEA” after several delays. The agency said in April that SpaceX had made several changes to its app that required additional analysis by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA has determined that completing an environmental assessment does not guarantee issuance of a driver’s license, which is contingent upon meeting FAA requirements regarding safety, risk, and financial responsibility.

The Federal Aviation Administration released a 151-page draft environmental assessment in September that examined the potential environmental impacts of the original SpaceX mission file and reviewed debris recovery, local road closures at Boca Chica, and other issues. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said in February that he was “very confident” that his new SpaceX spacecraft, designed to travel to the Moon and Mars, would reach Earth’s orbit for the first time this year.

Even in a “worst-case” scenario, which requires a full environmental impact statement or continued legal battles over the issue, SpaceX has a contingency plan in place, Musk said.

Musk said the company will move the entire Starship program to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where SpaceX has already received the necessary environmental approval.

He added that such a move would lead to a setback of between six and eight months. In any case, SpaceX is still launching in 2023 what it calls the world’s first private lunar mission, which will fly a spacecraft to orbit the moon and return to Earth.