The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has revealed that it is in the early stages of starting an environmental review for the proposed SpaceX operations at a launch site in Texas.

The space transportation service provider has informed the FAA of its plan to apply for licences for suborbital and orbital launches of its Starship spacecraft, which is powered by the Super Heavy rocket at its Boca Chica launch site in Cameron County, Texas.

SpaceX requires additional environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for its proposed update to Starship/Super Heavy operations as they are beyond the scope of the existing final environmental impact statement (EIS) and record of decision for the launch site.

The two sides are working to prepare a draft environmental assessment (EA), which will be subject to the FAA’s evaluation and approval.

SpaceX must fulfil a safety review and develop agreements for the licence application, in addition to the environmental review.

In a statement, the FAA said: “The FAA is in the beginning stages of conducting the environmental review of the SpaceX proposal and developing a public outreach plan.

“The FAA intends to provide scoping information for the project soon.

“The EA will allow the FAA to determine the appropriate course of action: preparation of an EIS because the proposed action’s environmental impacts would be significant; issuance of a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI); or issuance of a ‘Mitigated FONSI’ providing for mitigation measures to address the proposed action’s environmental impacts.”

The FAA is expected to take decision during the EA process or after SpaceX presents a draft EA for FAA approval.

Last week, SpaceX and Nasa successfully launched the first operational crew mission (Crew-1) to the International Space Station (ISS) from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida.