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SpaceX application to expand Starship Texas facility withdrawn by USACE


Starship prototype 20 is stacked onto Super Heavy booster 4, at the company’s Boca Chica facility, Texas.


According to CNBC documents, the US Army Corps of Engineers retracted SpaceX’s request to build launch facilities at Boca Chica in Texas. The agency had requested environmental information from the company.

SpaceX requested approvals to build a new launchpad, landing pad, or other launch infrastructure in support of the company’s existing reusable launch vehicles operations at its South Texas facility.

This expansion was to be built on approximately 17 acres with wetlands, mud flats and other natural features.

Under section 404 of Clean Water Act, the Army Corps of Engineers oversees wetland development. The Corps ensures that wetland developers don’t harm drinking water and natural resources, and do not cause damage to endangered species or their habitat if there are other sites and approaches.

The US Army Corps of Engineers wrote to SpaceX on March 7, 2022 to state that Elon Musk’s space venture failed to provide specific information about the environmental impacts of its plans. It also stated in a letter that it had not been able to tell SpaceX how they might build their facilities differently or if it could find them somewhere else to reduce harm to wildlife, wetlands and water. It is called The VergePrevious reports on the withdrawal.

According to the agency, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk spoke out on February 10th, 2022. He explained that, should Texas not allow him to increase Starship testing and launch operations soon enough, he would relocate a large portion of SpaceX operations to Florida’s Cape Canaveral or Kennedy Space Center.

Musk indicated that SpaceX could turn Boca Chica into a more research- and development hub if such a thing were to take place.

SpaceX was told by the Corps it could restart its application to continue with vertical launch site expansion. SpaceX did not respond immediately to requests for comment regarding whether it had submitted or responded to the information requested in the last month. SpaceX has not responded to requests for comment.

A parallel review involves an environmental engineer blogging under the handle ESG Hound reportedU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also expressed concerns. FWS sent comments to Federal Aviation Administration, stating that SpaceX did not provide adequate environmental information in order to get approval for expansion of Boca Chia.

SpaceX’s Starship prototypes have successfully completed several high-altitude flights, but the company is now looking to go into space. The company’s spacecraft Starship, which is being developed for a Mars mission, is called. Starship development by the company was stalled on several fronts in 2013. A test flight to orbit is currently awaiting regulatory approval.

SpaceX needs to obtain a Federal Aviation Administration license in order for the test flight to proceed. A separate key environmental assessment remains pending.

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