SpaceX asks FAA to green lightGulf of Mexico splashdowns – Brownsville Herald

The Federal Aviation Administration released a Draft Environmental Assessment analyzing a SpaceX proposal to conduct splashdowns in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The Gulf of Mexico would serve as a possible splashdown location for Dragon missions originating from the SpaceX South Texas Launch Site (currently under construction) and a contingency landing location for Dragon missions originating from Florida,” the document states.

SpaceX needs a re-entry license for spacecraft descending to Earth from the International Space Station, to which the company delivers supplies. SpaceX hopes to one day deliver and return astronauts from the facility, which orbits the planet.

The human component to future missions is one reason that SpaceX is looking for another place, aside from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, to conduct splashdowns.

“The ability to return crew to Earth in a safe and timely manner is extremely important, particularly in cases where human life or health may be in jeopardy,” the document states.

The proposed splashdown and re-entry zone stretches from waters off of South Padre Island and hugs the Texas coast up to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and from the Florida panhandle down to the keys.

“Under the Proposed Action, the FAA would issue a re-entry license to SpaceX, which would authorize SpaceX to conduct up to six Dragon landing operations per year in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico,” the document states.

The Draft Environmental Assessment, which was released March 22, evaluates potential impacts on air quality, climate, noise and noise-compatible land use; the Department of Transportation Act; impacts on biological resources like aquatic plants and animals; on coastal, natural and water resources; on energy supply; on hazardous materials, solid waste, pollution prevention; and overall potential cumulative impacts.

This Draft Environmental Assessment incorporates previously analyzed environmental effects of Dragon landings in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The FAA initiated a public review and comment period that began with the March 22 publication. Comments are due by May 4.

“The successful completion of the environmental review process does not guarantee that the FAA would issue a re-entry license to SpaceX,” the document states.

A SpaceX spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

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