Launch window for SpaxeX second test flights opens at 7 a.m. Fridaydfwnewsa | November 16, 2023 | 0 | East Texas News , South Texas News
The 120-minute “test window” for SpaceX’s second Starship orbital flight attempt from Boca Chica/Starbase opens at 7 a.m. on Friday, according to the company.
Residents of Cameron County and the nearby area were cautioned that they may hear a loud noise from the Super Heavy booster’s 33 engines upon ignition and as the vehicle lifts off, though the degree will depend on weather and other conditions, SpaceX said. A live webcast of the launch will start 30 minutes before liftoff and can be viewed at spacex.com/launches.
Meanwhile, Cameron County Parks and Recreation announced that Isla Blanca Park will be open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 17 instead of the usual hours of 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Isla Blanca Park boat ramp will be closed on Nov. 17 for safety reasons until after the launch, when it will be reopened to the public, according to CCPR.
“A large influx of visitors is expected, and we ask all visitors to abide by all park rules and the flag advisory signage,” CCPR said. “Walking, standing or sitting on the sand dunes is prohibited. We will provide updates regarding any changes to the park hours.”
The Federal Aviation Administration announced on Nov. 15 that it had approved SpaceX’s application for a modified “vehicle operator license” that authorizes the company to attempt a second orbital flight of Starship from Boca Chica. The first attempt, on April 20, ended four minutes after launch after the Starship and Super Heavy booster automatically self-destructed miles above the Gulf of Mexico after veering out of control.
The launch pad was also destroyed during liftoff, scattering chunks of reinforced concrete over a wide area, including dunes, the beach and the surf.
On May 1, a group of national and local environmental organizations filed suit against the FAA for allegedly “failing to fully analyze and mitigate the environmental harms resulting from the SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy launch program at Boca Chica.”
The lawsuit argued that proposed mitigation by the (FAA) isn’t enough to prevent the launch program from causing significant environmental harm,” according to the plaintiffs. “The agency hasn’t explained how mitigation would address and prevent rocket explosions and fires that could wipe out neighboring habitat. The suit calls for a full environmental analysis to truly protect threatened and endangered species and ensure public beach access for all people.”
The FAA analyzed the environmental impact of Starship-Super Heavy operations at Boca Chica in its 2022 Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA).
“SpaceX recently provided the FAA with additional information regarding operation of a (water) deluge system, addition of a forward heat shield interstage to the vehicle, and expansion of the Area of Potential Effects for cultural resources,” the agency said on Nov. 15.
The FAA prepared a written reevaluation of the 2022 Final PEA that included the additional information. Based on the reevaluation, the FAA concluded that issuing a modified license for a second launch “conforms to the prior environmental documentation, the data contained in the 2022 PEA remains substantially valid, there are no significant environmental changes, and all pertinent conditions and requirements of the prior approval have been met or will be met in the current licensing action,” according to the agency.
As a result, there was no need to prepare a supplemental or new environmental document before issuing the modified license, the FAA said. An electronic version of the Vehicle Operator License can be viewed at faa.gov/media/69476.
In accordance with FAA Order 1050.1F, Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures, the FAA prepared the Written Re-evaluation of the 2022 Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment for the SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy Launch Vehicle Program at the Boca Chica Launch Site in Cameron County, Texas to describe and evaluate this additional information.
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