Last time, the US Federal Aviation Administration promised to issue an opinion on the environmental review – without which it is impossible to proceed to full-fledged testing of the Starship spacecraft – no later than March 25. The new deadline is April 29. If delays from state power continue, SpaceX will have to move from Texas to Florida.
This is the third postponement of the completion of the Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) expertise on the Starship/Super Heavy launch system, which is awaited by SpaceX. Initially, it was the end of December last year, but due to many comments, the deadline postponed to March. The document should approve the regular flights of a new generation spacecraft from Boka Chika, Texas.
The main point of the PEA, which is awaiting expert assessment – a conclusion about the potential harm of rocket launches to endangered species, according to Space News.
However, red tape with the issuance of a permit will not necessarily affect the schedule of tests Starship. Ecological expertise required only for orbital flights, for which the ship is not yet technically ready. Elon Musk, head of SpaceX, said on February 10 that companies still need several months to prepare for the first launch into orbit. In addition, in early March, the company, according to Musk, was forced to redirect some resources to cybersecurity of Starlink satellites, and this will lead to new delays with Starship and the second version of the Starlink network.
If the company does not receive a license to launch Starship from the site in Boca Chica, SpaceX will conduct tests from the spaceport. Kennedy in Florida. This will be the worst option for the company, and will require six to eight months to move and build a new starting table.
Last fall, Musk, speaking at a meeting of the Space Research Council, promised that, despite the lack of permission from the regulator, Starship will make at least 12 launches in 2022. And in 2025, SpaceX may start selling Starship flights at prices per kilogram of payload lower than Falcon9 offers today.