SpaceX is fighting to maintain a foothold on a massive expanse of land in Boca Chica, Texas. The company relocated to the Lonestar State in 2021 and wants the region renamed to fit its purpose.
While the private aerospace company has faced mounting resistance and criticism, it remains confident in its endeavors. And SpaceX just captured a considerable ally in its crusade.
SpaceX Gets The Big Guns
Earlier this month, local reports confirmed that Texas Governor Greg Abbott had signified support for SpaceX and its mission to receive federal authorization to launch its Super Heavy/Starship aerospace system from Boca Chica, Brownsville.
According to the Rio Grande Guardian, Abbott explained that the process of gaining federal approval for the launch site seems unnecessary and stands as yet another exhibit of the federal government obstructing innovation. The Republican Governor added that he has worked with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, and he believes that approval will help both SpaceX and the Texas economy.
Musk's private aerospace company has been ramping up efforts ever since the move to Texas. One of its top priorities is finishing the launch site for its upcoming Super Heavy and Starship vehicles. And things haven't gone so smoothly.
Before SpaceX is allowed to launch its vehicles, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must complete an environmental review of the launch site to ensure it complies with set standards. The FAA has been conducting the programmatic environmental assessment (PEA) of Starbase for months now, releasing a draft in mid-September 2021 confirming that evaluations would be complete by December 2021.
No such luck. The FAA initially pushed the completion date to February, saying it needed more time to engage with other agencies and analyze comments submitted under the PEA. The FAA extended the review date to March 28 for similar reasons and announced last month that it had again raised the date to April 29.
Protecting His Golden Goose
Speaking on the approval process, Gov. Abbott made it clear that he is fully behind Elon Musk and SpaceX and would do everything he could to help the company obtain the required licenses.
"What I am going to do if Biden interferes with the ability of SpaceX to launch from Boca Chica; I am going to be working every step of the way to make sure that they are going to be able to launch from Boca Chica. We heard the vision from Mr. Patel himself about what they are working on, and our job is to make sure they are able to achieve their vision."
Abbott added that his administration will work with SpaceX directly to ensure that the company is able to base entirely in Boca Chica.
The Governor's passion is understandable. SpaceX has created thousands of jobs since its move to Boca Chica. The company has also helped to improve Texas tax revenues.
While Texas remains one of the United States' largest economies, the state has watched from the sidelines as major companies settle in New York and California. Now that Texas has captured SpaceX, it wants to ensure a safe and accessible environment for growth.
Still On Track For Now
The FAA's latest delay won't likely affect SpaceX's plans for the Starship and Super Heavy. The private aerospace company is gearing up for the first Starship orbital launch, shooting for the end of May.
SpaceX is also putting the finishing touches on its Raptor engines, which will power the Starship and the Super Heavy. The company faced some initial difficulty with the engines but appears to be moving in the right direction.