Curiosity rules at SpaceX Starship environmental impact conference on the Space Coast – Orlando Sentinel

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COCOA — If SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy find a home on the Space Coast, the most powerful orbital rockets ever launched are sure to have a significant environmental impact.

What that will entail is a series of in-person and virtual meetings for the public to comment on concerns about two frequent rocket launches at two potential sites within the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The process of accurately understanding the situation has begun. It’s as powerful as the Apollo program’s Saturn V rocket.

The first of those public meetings drew hundreds of curious residents to the Katherine Schweinberg Rude Central Cocoa Library Tuesday night.

“The purpose of today’s and this week’s meetings is to get as many members of the public, residents, researchers, teachers, whoever we can, to come here with their comments, concerns, questions, etc. Almost everything about this process can be done in person, online or by email,” said Emre Kelly, director of media operations for Space Launch Delta 45, the Space Force group that oversees the launch site.

The meeting is the first step in a process expected to take about 15 months to complete an environmental impact report led by the Department of the Air Force. The Space Force is part of the Air Force, just as the Marines are part of the Navy.

The goal of the EIC, announced in February, is to determine whether the Air Force will take over 37 existing space launch facilities, create 50 new space launch facilities, or sign leases for nothing. .

This regional map shows two proposed launch sites for Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.  (Department of Air Force)
This regional map shows two proposed launch sites for Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. (Department of Air Force)

SLC 37 is currently the launch site for United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy, but the last rocket is expected to fly by this summer, after which ULA is expected to relinquish its lease. The new SLC 50 will be built on undeveloped land between SLC 40 and SLC 37, where SpaceX launches its Falcon 9 rockets.

Representatives from the Space Force, Federal Aviation Administration, NASA and the Coast Guard were on hand with placards explaining the where, why and next steps in the process.

Throughout the three-hour event, members of the public kept coming in to ask questions about the plan.

Members speak publicly with representatives from the Space Force, Coast Guard, NASA, and FAA during the SpaceX Starship Environmental Impact Conference held at the Katherine Schweinberg Rude Central Cocoa Library on Tuesday, March 6, 2024. Richard Tribow/Orlando Sentinel)
Members speak publicly with representatives from the Space Force, Coast Guard, NASA, and FAA during the SpaceX Starship Environmental Impact Conference held at the Katherine Schweinberg Rude Central Cocoa Library on Tuesday, March 6, 2024. Richard Tribow/Orlando Sentinel)

“They have a lot of work to do,” said John Bolin, who came from Merritt Island with his two adult sons, Tom and Greg. “We were hoping that maybe we’d get more information about the vehicle and things like that, but it’s still early.”

“It feels great,” Tom Bolin added, noting that he was sleeping through the more frequent sonic booms that sometimes occur with SpaceX’s current rocket launches. “I think SpaceX has a good track record. I wish someone could successfully build a big rocket like that. Right now, they have the upper hand in the game. So I don’t see any problems. I think.”

The second meeting will be held at the Titusville Civic Center on Wednesday, March 6th from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., followed by the Radisson Resort at the Port in Cape Canaveral on Thursday, March 7th from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. It was planned to be done. A virtual meeting is also scheduled for March 12th, and will be recorded and available for viewing until March 22nd, according to the website spaceforcestarshipeis.com.

Anyone in the field can leave comments in writing or have access to leave them online. The comments will be incorporated into a draft version of his EIS, scheduled for release in December.

“Then there will be another meeting,” Kelly said. “So, obviously, it’s very important that people who have any thoughts on this matter publicly comment, and they don’t have to give out names or addresses or anything like that. Obviously, the important thing to note is that if they Once you act, it becomes public record.”

The final version of the EIC, the most intensive regulatory oversight option under the National Environmental Policy Act, is expected to be released in summer 2025, along with alternative priority launch sites. Only then will SpaceX be able to move forward with a new launch site agreement.

FAA concludes investigation into SpaceX Starship’s double-explosion second flight

SpaceX currently uses its Starbase launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, for its Starship and Super Heavy launch attempts. The rocket can generate more than 17 million pounds of thrust during liftoff.

The first two missions in 2023 ended in explosions, but the last one in November managed to reach space. The third attempt is awaiting FAA approval to begin and could begin later this month.

SpaceX was also building a launch tower to support Starship launches from Launch Pad 39-A at Kennedy Space Center, but the company plans to launch hundreds or even thousands of launches a year at multiple launch sites. He said he would like to support Starship’s launch.

So we might eventually see Starship on the KSC launch pad, but that’s up to NASA. This his EIC is specifically tailored for Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

“This is between the Air Force/Space Force and SpaceX,” Kelly said.

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