The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released the Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment and Mitigated Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision for the SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy Launch Vehicle Program at the SpaceX Boca Chica Launch Site in Cameron Country, Texas (PEA and Mitigated FONSI/ROD). The environmental review is only one part of the license evaluation for Starship/Super Heavy launches. The FAA must complete safety, risk and financial reviews before making a license determination.
The FAA prepared the final PEA to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of the FAA issuing an experimental permit and/or vehicle operator license to SpaceX for Starship/Super Heavy launch operations at the Boca Chica Launch Site in Cameron County, TX. The FAA released the draft PEA for public review and comment on September 17, 2021. The FAA held virtual public meetings on October 18 and October 20, 2021. The public review period closed on November 1, 2021. The PEA was revised based on public comments, and the final PEA includes responses to comments (see final PEA Appendix I).
The FAA has determined that the Proposed Action would not result in significant environmental impacts. Required mitigation measures are listed throughout Chapter 3 of the final PEA. The PEA, FONSI/ROD and associated mitigation measures will be conditions of any future license or permit issued to SpaceX for Starship/Super Heavy launch operations at the Boca Chica Launch Site and must be implemented by SpaceX.
The FAA completed interagency consultations with state and Federal agencies as a part of the environmental review and per special-purpose laws and regulations. These consultations included, but were not limited to, the following:
- Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act: The FAA received a Biological Opinion (BO) from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a Letter of Concurrence (LOC) from the National Marine Fisheries Service.
- Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act: In consultation with the Texas State Historic Preservation Officer, along with other consulting parties, the FAA resolved adverse effects to historic properties and executed a Programmatic Agreement (PA).
Electronic versions of the final PEA and Mitigated FONSI/ROD, as well as the Biological Opinion, Letter of Concurrence, and Programmatic Agreement, are available for download on the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation website: https://www.faa.gov/space/stakeholder_engagement/spacex_starship/.
April 2023 Update:
The FAA issued a Written Re-evaluation of the Programmatic Environmental Assessment for the SpaceX Super Heavy Launch Vehicle Program at the SpaceX Boca Chica Launch Site on April 14, 2023. An electronic version of the Written Re-evaluation is available here: https://www.faa.gov/space/stakeholder_engagement/spacex_starship.
November 2023 Update:
The FAA issued a Written Re-evaluation of the Programmatic Environmental Assessment for the SpaceX Super Heavy Launch Vehicle Program at the SpaceX Boca Chica Launch Site on November 15, 2023. An electronic version of the Written Re-evaluation is available here: https://www.faa.gov/space/stakeholder_engagement/spacex_starship
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Section 305 Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) Consultation
NOAA Issues any EFH Conservation Recommendations (Agency Action)
- Completed Date: 10/29/2021
Endangered Species Act Consultation (DOI-FWS)
FWS determines ESA Consultation Package is Complete - Formal (Agency Action)
- Completed Date: 10/06/2021
Endangered Species Act Consultation (NOAA-NMFS)
NOAA determines ESA Consultation Package is Complete - Informal (Agency Action)
- Completed Date: 11/04/2021
Section 106 Review
Section 106 consultation concluded (Agency Action)
- Completed Date: 05/06/2022