Army Corps Halts Permit Review For SpaceX’s Texas Launch Site

Topline

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suspended SpaceX’s application to expand its South Texas rocket launch site, according to a letter from the Corps sent to SpaceX and viewed by Bloomberg and the Verge on Wednesday, marking the latest delay to what would be the company’s first orbital launch from the environmentally delicate area.

Key Facts

The aerospace company aims to build a secondary launch and landing pad in addition to further infrastructure on its site in Boca Chica, Texas, but the Army Corps has closed its review of the application, according to the letter, which was reportedly dated March 7.

The letter reportedly said SpaceX failed to provide the Army Corps with information on how the expansion would impact wetlands, endangered species and historical properties in and around the Boca Chica property.

“Without the requested information, the permit process cannot continue,” Army Corps spokesperson Lynda Yezzi told Bloomberg Wednesday, though Yezzi said the process can be re-initiated once the proper data is provided (Forbes has reached out to the Army Corps for comment).

SpaceX requested an amendment to its wetlands permit—a government approved permit that allows an entity to operate in areas of soggy soil, hydrophytic vegetation and water—in December 2020, as it continues to add buildings to the site.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to Forbes’ request for comment.

Key Background

SpaceX is constructing its Starship rocket at the Boca Chica property, which it hopes to use as Starship’s launch site. Upon completion, Starship would be the largest rocket in commercial space history, according to Bloomberg, and SpaceX hopes it will one day go to the moon and Mars. The project has faced regulatory snags: The Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing the site’s impact on the surrounding environment before it issues SpaceX a license to launch Starship, and has extended its review multiple times. The FAA said it will release its findings on April 29, and billionaire SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in February the rocket should be good to go for its first orbital test flight immediately if it is granted approval. SpaceX has yet to launch a rocket into orbit from the Boca Chica site, which is located near Texas’ Gulf Coast and several miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

What To Watch For

Musk said in February the company may shift the launch of Starship to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida if the Texas site continues to face regulatory delays. SpaceX has already conducted several launches at the Cape Canaveral site, where it maintains governmental approval to launch. However, moving operations could delay the launch by more than six months, Musk said.

Reference-www.forbes.com

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