Elon Musk’s SpaceX Gets Wide Public Support and Some Criticism in First FAA Hearing Over Boca Chica Launch Program

By Benzinga
October 20, 2021 Updated: October 20, 2021

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Monday conducted a virtual public hearing to draw views for an environmental review of the billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk-led SpaceX’s proposed Starsip launch program at Boca Chica, Texas, Valley Central reported.

What Happened

The hearing has drawn about 100 comments from the public including residents, scientists and engineers, activists, and representatives from local indigenous tribes.

The public hearing seeks reasons why the FAA should allow SpaceX to launch Starship vehicles from its existing Boca Chica launch site in Cameron County, Texas, and conduct launches originating from this site over the next several years.

The space company would have to first secure a crucial experimental permit from the FAA, which is reviewing the potential environmental impacts related to the proposed activities.

The aviation agency has so far only been given an initial mission profile as SpaceX does not have the full details of all its planned operations.

The hearing began with the FAA saying the noise was estimated to be below levels associated with adverse noise exposure, adding that historical landmarks, biological resources such as endangered species, and water resources are expected to be hit, as per the report.

A majority of the public comments were in support and there were voices of concern as well related to desalination, power, and natural gas plants or a mitigation plan under scenarios such as noise from Starship damaging windows on South Padre Island.

Concerns from the Mexican side, related to colonization, gentrification, and for endangered species were voiced as well.

Each participant was given three minutes to express their views.

A second such meeting is scheduled to be held on Wednesday, at 6 p.m. The comment period ends Nov. 1, 2021.

Why It Matters

Musk, who also leads Tesla Inc., has in the past said he aims to make space accessible for everyone. SpaceX is now developing a multi-mission, fully reusable, super heavy-lift launch vehicle which would reduce the cost of access to space and exceed the capabilities of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles.

The space company has already conducted a high-altitude flight and landing of a Starship prototype and plans to send the latest version to orbit from Texas.

Price Action

Tesla shares closed 3.21 percent higher at $870.11 a share on Monday.

By Rachit Vats

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