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FAA requires SpaceX to make environmental changes to Starbase in Texas

FAA requires SpaceX to make environmental changes to Starbase in Texas
SpaceX successfully launched and landed Starship SN15 at the company's Starbase spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas, in May 2021 after failing to stick the landing on four previous attempts. File Photo by SpaceX/UPI | License Photo

June 13 (UPI) -- The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday said SpaceX will be required to make more than 75 changes to the orbital launch program at its Starbase launch site in Texas after determining there would be some environmental impacts to the surrounding area.

Elon Musk's SpaceX must obtain either an experimental permit or a vehicle operator license from the FAA for Starship and Super Heavy launch operations from the Boca Chica facility.

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"One step closer to the first orbital flight test of Starship," SpaceX tweeted Monday with a link to the FAA report.

The FAA decision Monday was made as part of a required environmental review as a part of that process and the agency noted that fulfilling the environmental changes necessary as described by the review would not guarantee that it would issue the permit.

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SpaceX will be required to take such measures as mitigating water pollution, noise levels and adjusting lighting at the complex to minimize the impact on wildlife and at the nearby beach, the FAA said.

If the permit is granted, SpaceX will also be required to perform ongoing monitoring of local vegetation and wildlife by a qualified biologist and coordinate with state and federal agencies on the removal of launch debris from sensitive habitats.

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The FAA noted that SpaceX made some changes to its proposal before the review was completed, including removing desalination and power plants and modifying its Raptor engine configurations that "would not constitute any discernable changes in environmental impacts."

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The environmental impacts were not significant and would not require a full environmental impact assessment, the FAA noted.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a biological opinion as part of the process that concluded the launch plans are not likely to jeopardize any federally protected endangered species or their habitats.

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