SpaceX Starship’s environmental review will continue for at least another month

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We won’t see the big rocket flying again until June at the earliest.

The United States Federal Aviation Administration has again stated that it needs more time to complete a mandatory environmental review before it can issue SpaceX a launch license for Starship’s first orbital test flight. The FAA said SpaceX has made changes to its app, which the agency needs to review.

The review process began last year, and the FAA collected about 18,000 public comments on the potential impacts of Elon Musk’s plan to launch a prototype spacecraft atop a Super Booster for the first time ever. Heavy. The vehicle would take off from the company’s Starbase facility in Texas and send Starship on a brief flight into orbit, then return for a freshwater landing off the coast of Hawaii. The Super Heavy is expected to attempt a landing on a modified offshore landing pad in the Gulf of Mexico.

The FAA originally planned to complete the review by the end of 2021, but continued to push back that target date. It had pledged to release a final assessment by April 29, but instead issued another postponement.

“The FAA is working toward the release of the final programmatic environmental assessment (PEA) for the SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy on May 31, 2022,” read a statement emailed to the agency. “SpaceX has made several changes to its application that require additional FAA analysis.”

The FAA consulted with SpaceX and other government agencies throughout the review process. The final assessment will either give the green light for the launch to proceed in the coming months or conclude that a more detailed environmental impact statement is required. An EIS can take several months to more than a year.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After the start attempts ended explosively, SpaceX successfully launched and landed Starship without Super Heavy last year. The vehicle has never flown with the booster attached and has not yet left Earth’s atmosphere.

The Starship development team has remained busy throughout the delays. Texas crews built upgraded Super Heavy boosters with the latest Raptor 2 engines, and construction also began on a potential second Starship facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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