FAA Opens the Door to Starbase

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=as_huLOp5I4The four astronauts aboard the Inspiration4 are catching their breath after a successful three-day mission orbiting the Earth. Meanwhile, SpaceX founder Elon Musk may be catching his breath too, but for different reasons.  For months, Musk and the FAA have clashed, shutting down all StarBase flight opportunities related to the Starship/Super Heavy rocket, the largest rocket ever built. From environmental impacts and protests to size regulations, the “gateway to Mars” has remained bolted shut, but the door may be opening ever so slightly.  This past week, the FAA wrote via a press release, “We want to hear from you!” The Programmatic Environmental Assessment, or PEA, is open for public comment until October 18, with a virtual public hearing set for Oct. 6 and 7, giving people the opportunity to chime in on Starbase activity and the future of the Super Heavy rocket right here in Boca Chica.  Musk posted the announcement via Twitter, writing “Please add your voice to the public comments. Support is greatly appreciated. Humanity’s future on the moon, Mars and beyond depend on it!”  Meanwhile, Rocket Ranch manager Anthony Frank Gomez is one of those people Musk was referring to. Gomez’s campsite serves as one of the closest places on earth to watch a rocket launch. The prospects of increasing launch activity could be huge for his business. But recent and future inactivity have been detrimental. Well, there’s good news for people like Anthony and those on the other side of the debate.  Right now, it seems SpaceX could meet federal law and address environmental concerns sufficiently during future testing and launches. Additional safety and testing measures, including the hiring of a biologist to monitor activity during each step, may be required.  All optimistic prospects. But the news doesn’t come without some caveats.  Populated areas in Port Isabel and South Padre Island can expect to experience units of pressure between 4 and 6 psf during Super Heavy sonic booms on landing, putting some roofing, plaster, and windows at risk of damage.  Regardless, Musk finds himself in the most promising position he’s been in here at Starbase, Boca Chica. But he won’t fully catch his breath until he takes people’s breath away with a successful Super Heavy launch.   Additional information on joining the public hearing will be released on Oct. 4. For more updates and all things space, stick with us right here on Space Channel.

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