The Starship rocket tests continue, but in order to proceed to the next stage, the SpaceX company must wait for the results of the FAA investigation. In order to deliver the hardware to NASA for its Artemis mission (before aiming for Mars), SpaceX still needs to conduct several tests, including a first orbital flight, which should take place within a month or two.
The company plans to conduct the launch from its base in Boca Chica, where the latest upper stage prototype has already been deployed. But for this, the FAA must submit its environmental report, called the PEA, which examines in detail several points such as:
- public safety
- national security issues
- the impact of the environment
- risks in the event of an explosion
The evaluation procedure also includes asking the public’s opinion about the launch. While this is generally not a problem, the volume of responses is such that it partly explains why the FAA could not meet the latest April 29 deadline and had to push its decision-making back to May 31.
What are the consequences in case of refusal?
If the FAA were to reject SpaceX’s request, the company could still fall back on the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but the rocket would have to be moved more than 1,500 kilometers, which would inevitably result in delays.
This important decision for the immediate future of the company should therefore be made in the next few hours, unless the administration decides to postpone it again.