FAA initiates impact study for SpaceX megarocket launches from Florida

SpaceX currently launches the nearly 400-foot-tall Starship rocket from its facility in Boca Chica, Texas. The site was selected in 2014, and vehicle testing began in 2019. Groups involved in the project have faced lawsuits by conservationists over impacts to animals and the environment.

The agency tasked with regulating aviation and commercial space travel intends to begin an environmental impact study that could pave the way for SpaceX to begin Starship operations at the Kennedy Space Center.

The space company’s proposal includes conducting Starship-Super Heavy launches and performing recoverable booster landings along Florida’s east coast.

A previous environmental assessment was completed by NASA in 2019, but the FAA notice says the scope of the project has evolved since the original proposals.

"NASA is seeking the support of the Starship-Super Heavy at KSC in its continued mission to expand commercial uses of space and the space industry by facilitating SpaceX efforts to strengthen U.S. space transportation and launch infrastructure and providing greater mission capability to NASA and SpaceX by continuing the development of ever evolving next generation launch vehicles and spacecraft," the notice stated.

The EIS will analyze potential impacts to air quality, wildlife, water resources and noise pollution along the Florida Space Coast.


SpaceX envisions its program will one day enable cost-effective crewed missions to the Moon and Mars.

"…NASA is seeking the support of the Starship-Super Heavy in meeting the U.S. goal of near-term lunar exploration, such as the NASA Artemis and Human Landing System (HLS) programs," the notice stated.

The company has launched the nearly 400-foot-tall Starship rocket three times from its facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

Each attempt has ended in a mishap that has triggered FAA investigations and caused scientists to conduct modifications for each subsequent mission.

SpaceX had planned to launch its fourth test flight in May with the goal of successfully recovering the booster and spacecraft.

A launch of a Starship with Starlink satellites is widely anticipated to happen this year – a task that has been performed by the company’s Falcon rocket series.


According to the newest proposal, the Kennedy Space Center could see up to 44 launches per year, up from the originally planned 24 launches.

Neither the FAA nor Elon Musk has announced an intended date for the Florida facility to be up and running.

Both the South Texas facility and its future location in Central Florida provide rockets with a flight path over water to minimize potential impacts and are far enough south to take advantage of Earth’s rotational speed.