SpaceX says it’s ready to launch its Starship rocket for a second attempt as soon as an environmental review of its new launch system is complete. On Oct. 31, the FAA wrapped up a safety review of the first Starship launch in April. That attempt resulted in the destruction of the rocket and massive damage to the Boca Chica launch site. On Sept. 8, the FAA gave SpaceX a list of safety issues to resolve before a second launch and it’s believed that most of those items had already been addressed by SpaceX. With the safety probe out of the way, the environmental issues are all that’s left.

Ironically, a new system aimed at reducing the colossal damage done by the hugely powerful rocket is the last stumbling block before environmental approval. A new water deluge system that will cool and cushion the impact of the rocket blast is being studied for its potential environmental impact. The FAA has to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the effect of the deluge system on endangered species. USFWS says it can take up to 135 days to do that but it expects to finish sooner.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Amusingly, SpaceX can test the deluge system as much as it wants, they’re just not allowed yet to use it for a launch!

    • No, actually they are not going to be conducting any actual testing of the Deluge System at all.
      What they are doing is to conduct a design review of that system as to its environmental impact in concert with the FAA and the U.S. Wildlife Service.
      Any actual ” real world testing ” would be moot without an actual rocket firing.

  2. Omg. With interlocking federal bureaucracies involved, a launch could be light years away. Maybe the fishies are good with cold water, but not hot water. Or something. Note that the two agencies COULD have done their work in parallel, but chose the longer serial path. It’s all paperwork anyway.

  3. As much as I despise the stratospheric rise in government bureaucracy of the last few decades, corporations can get out of control as well. Could this review have been done better? Of course – this is the government we are talking about! But SpaceX, and all corporations, do need to be held accountable. Could some of it be after the fact?

    Last note. Almost none of that water will be present at a launch – it will be turned to vapor and float off as steam to rain down somewhere else. Hard to see that as a great threat – but …