Spacex Boca Chica Leads

WASHINGTON – SpaceX conducted a static-fire test of a Starship vehicle on 21st October. The dispute continues over an environmental review of the company’s proposed launch facility in Texas.

At its Boca Chica, Texas, test site, SpaceX executed two brief firings of a single Raptor engine fitted aboard a Starship vehicle designated Ship 20. The experiments were the first to use the engine’s vacuum variant, which has a significantly wider nozzle to accommodate the increased plume when operating at low atmospheric pressure.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a series of tweets that the Raptor engine’s high chamber pressure allows the company to test the vacuum version of the engine at sea level. This excludes experiencing large exhaust separation by the nozzle.

Activities by the Federal Aviation Administration

The Federal Aviation Administration is conducting an environmental review of orbital launch activities at Boca Chica, which includes tests and other work. The Starship/Super Heavy vehicle needed to be launched, hence a launch license was required. The agency submitted a draught Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) of those launch operations for public feedback on 17th September.

That public comment process comprised 2 virtual public hearings, conducted via Zoom, on 18th and 20th October. FAA officials offered an overview of the PEA and then approved oral comments by the public. The agency is also welcomed comments by email and mail through the 1st of November.

The Public Hearings and the different viewpoints about SpaceX’s Plans to conduct launch from Boca Chica:

  • Most attendees proved the company’s strong advocates and the intended launch site, terming it critical for the nation’s space in the future.
  • They noted environmental impact, compared to the launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida, embedded in the wildlife refuge.
  • Others highlighted the economic benefits of SpaceX in the area, in dispute compensating for any environmental impacts.
  • At the 18th October hearing, senior Texas representative for Defenders of Wildlife, Sharon Wilcox stated that the stakes are high to invest in thorough EIS.
  • At the 20th October hearing, a resident of Detroit, Russel Sutton, being an environmentalist described himself as ‘SpaceX fanboy’.

Joshua Montgomery, a Kansas-based rural internet provider, claimed earlier in the hearing that he runs Wicked Broadband. He acknowledged that his company competes with SpaceX’s Starlink, but he backed SpaceX’s plans to launch from Boca Chica, finding that any environmental concerns could be easily managed.

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