FAA extends public comment period on review of SpaceX launch pad in South Texas

Border Report

SpaceX wants to launch its massive Starship rocket to Mars one day from the South Texas border. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo)

McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The Federal Aviation Administration has extended by a month the public commenting period for the environmental review of SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy program at the space company’s South Texas launch site.

At issue is whether the federal agency will approve the private space company’s request to launch the massive Starship Spacecraft and Super Heavy Launch rockets from its launch site near Boca Chica Beach in Cameron County, Texas, on the border with Mexico.

The FAA oversees space operations and on Thursday announced that it will take public comments through Nov. 1. The agency also has changed the time and dates of virtual public comment hearings to 5 p.m. CDT on Oct. 18 and Oct. 20.

Earlier this month, local environmentalists sent the federal agency a letter demanding data and information on the risks to border communities and wildlife from ongoing rocket testing and launches from the SpaceX facility that borders a beach where endangered sea turtles nest.

The SpaceX South Texas launch facility is blocks from Boca Chica Beach, Texas, and sand dunes where sea turtles nest. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo)

“We believe that Starship Super Heavy poses an unacceptable risk of harm to the nearby
communities of Port Isabel, Long Island Village, and South Padre Island, as well as to the immediately
adjacent national wildlife refuge, state park land, and surrounding fragile tidal wetlands,” the group’s board members wrote.

The FAA, at the time, told Border Report that “analyses are being conducted that determine collective risk, individual risk and hazard areas on the ground, sea and in the air. SpaceX would not receive a license if it cannot meet FAA safety regulations.”

Jim Chapman, an environmentalist with the group Save RGV and president of the nonprofit Friends of the Wildlife Corridor, was among those who signed off on the letter. And his organizations have been encouraging their supporters to send in public comments on how they feel about SpaceX’s growing facility just a stone’s throw from the Gulf of Mexico.

Upon hearing the public commenting period had been extended, Chapman on Thursday told Border Report: “Any time you give the public more time to comment that’s a good thing.”

“It’s a lot of material to go through. I think a lot of people intend to comment on things like this and then the time runs out and I think they’ll get more comments this way,” Chapman said.

Save RGV (which used to be Save RGV from LNG) has been updating its website to reflect its new mission: To put scrutiny on SpaceX in South Texas, Chapman said.

Comments to the FAA can be emailed to SpaceXBocaChica@icf.com, or mailed to: Stacey Zee, SpaceX PEA, c/o ICF, 9300 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22031.

More information can be found on the FAA website.

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