Probably the most ambitious rocket project since the Apollo program is getting ready for the first launch of its two stages these days, but that involuntarily takes longer than Elon Musk would like. Because before March 2022, the SpaceX spaceship is not allowed to take off.
Examination of safety and environmental issues
The reason for this is not necessarily the work on the rocket itself, even if it can take the additional time, but the official approval of the launch site. The future spaceport in Boca Chica, South Texas, is currently undergoing a comprehensive test, a central aspect being the environmental compatibility of the launch site and its safety.
As Space explored reports, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced yesterday that the “Programmatic Environmental Assessment” (PEA) cannot be completed before the end of February. This means that the orbital launch of the complete missile system must not take place before March 2022.
The missile builder is currently still answering around 18,000 public questions, but the FAA is still in the process of consulting and coordinating with other local and national authorities. Both are responsible for the fact that the process takes longer than originally planned.
The launch site is not ready yet
However, SpaceX is apparently not ready for the big start anyway. Finally, various tests were carried out, these are not yet fully completed. There are also reports of problems in the tank farm of the plant, and work is still being carried out on the launch tower and the tentacles. In short: Even if SpaceX were allowed to, the Starship could not yet be launched into orbit.
By the way, March 2022 is probably still (too) optimistic. Because even if the environmental assessment can be completed as planned at the end of February, the starting license must also be issued. As a result of this process, the Starship will probably not take off into space until April.