WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Department of the Air Force has completed the draft environmental assessment of the preferred alternative and other five reasonable alternatives for U.S. Space Command headquarters as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The draft document was made available July 13 for a 30-day public comment period in accordance with the NEPA process.
The final environmental assessment will take into account comments received for the DAF to consider before making a final basing decision for the command’s headquarters. As recommended by the Department of Defense Inspector General and directed by the Secretary of Defense, the DAF will also review concerns regarding full operational capability for U.S. Space Command headquarters, as well as review the DAF’s analysis criteria for “childcare,” “housing affordability,” and “access to military/veteran support” to verify that identification of the preferred alternative was supported.
Once the NEPA process is complete, the Secretary of the Air Force will select a location for U.S. Space Command headquarters.
The draft environmental assessment, along with information about how to submit a comment, is available online here.
DENVER, Feb. 15, 2022 (Lockheed Martin PR) – Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] was awarded three NASA contracts for key elements of the agency’s visionary Mars Sample Return program.
The first contract is for the cruise stage that will power and steer the Mars-bound journey of the lander that retrieves Martian rock and soil samples from the Perseverance Rover. For this $35 million award from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California (JPL), Lockheed Martin will produce the cruise stage and its comprehensive elements, including the solar arrays, structure, propulsion and thermal properties.
The problem: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Park Service do not agree that launching the world’s most powerful rocket will have a non-significant impact on federal and state-managed wildlife refuges and national monuments that surround the Boca Chica launch site. Without their sign off, ESG Hound says the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can’t approve the plan using an ongoing environmental assessment that it aims to complete by Jan. 31. A more complicated and lengthy environmental review would be required, resulting in years of delays.
Further, if SpaceX has viable alternatives for Super Heavy/Starship launches in Florida, the company might be required to abandon the Starbase site in Texas. Developing news facilities could result in significant delays to Super Heavy/Starship and the Human Landing System that SpaceX is building for NASA to return astronauts to the lunar surface.
Confused? Let’s review a little bit of history first.
The draft document, available for download as a PDF here, says the FAA’s proposed action “is to issue one or more experimental permits and/or a vehicle operator license to SpaceX that would allow SpaceX to launch, which can include landing, Starship/Super Heavy. SpaceX’s goal is to use Starship/Super Heavy for low Earth orbit, sun-synchronous orbit, geostationary transfer orbit, and interplanetary missions for cargo and humans.”
SpaceX Boca Chica Launch Site Scoping Period FAA Announcement
The FAA is holding a public scoping period to assist the FAA in determining the scope of issues for analysis in the draft environmental assessment (EA). As a part of the public scoping period, the FAA requests public comments. More information about providing public comments can be found at the end of this email.
WASHINGTON (FAA PR) — SpaceX has informed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that it plans to apply for licenses for suborbital and orbital launches of its Starship spacecraft powered by the Super Heavy rocket at its launch site in Boca Chica, Texas.
A dispute has erupted between several environmental groups and the federal government over the impact of SpaceX’s test operations at Boca Chica Beach in south Texas.
The issue: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved SpaceX’s plan to use the coastal site for launching its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets up to 12 times per year.
However, Elon Musk’s company has instead been using its facilities to develop and flight test its larger Starship and Super Heavy boosters. The resulting impacts have been much greater than anticipated under the original proposal, environmental groups argue.