SpaceX expects a major decision on Starship this week

After months of delays in the first orbital launch of its next-generation Starship rocket, SpaceX is hoping for good news from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this week.

The spaceflight company expects the FAA to finally complete its longstanding environmental review — known as a programmatic environmental assessment (PEA) — that will determine whether the spacecraft’s first orbital test flight may have place from SpaceX’s Starbase launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

The PEA considers whether a proposed launch endangers public safety in any way, while also considering any national security concerns and potential environmental impacts, among other factors.

The administration’s review process was to invite members of the public to submit their views on SpaceX’s launch request, and the huge response is part of the reason for the delays.

The FAA has already pushed back the review’s completion date several times, each time saying it simply needed more time to conclude. The most recent delay came in late April when he set a new completion date of May 31.

“The FAA is finalizing the review of the final PEA, including responding to comments and ensuring consistency with SpaceX’s license application,” the agency said last month when it said that she could not meet the April 29 deadline. “The FAA is also completing consultation and confirming mitigation measures for proposed SpaceX operations. All consultations must be completed before the FAA can issue the final EEP.

If the FAA gives the go-ahead for launch from Boca Chica, the Starship vehicle, which includes the Starship upper stage and the Super Heavy first stage, could begin its first orbital test flight in a month or two.

However, if the FAA denies SpaceX’s launch request from the site, the Starship will likely launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This would mean transporting the vehicle approximately 1,000 miles, which would add additional time to launch.

The Starship will be the most powerful rocket ever launched when it lifts off. NASA plans to deploy the system for astronaut missions to the Moon, Mars and possibly beyond.

Ahead of the looming FAA decision, SpaceX rolled out the final Starship upper-stage prototype to the Starbase launch pad on Saturday.

Starship 24 unfolds on the Starbase pad

—SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 27, 2022

Be sure to check out all the news regarding the FAA’s decision, which is set to drop on Tuesday, May 31. Unless there is another delay, that is.

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