Elon Musk‘s SpaceX requested the court in a filing dated June 30 that it dismiss the complaint filed by environmental groups against co-defendant Federal Aviation Administration. The groups allege that the federal agency failed to consider the environmental impact of the Starship launch from Boca Chica, Texas in April.
What Happened: SpaceX said that the plaintiffs have failed to establish standing or state a claim upon which relief may be granted and denied most allegations made by the groups.
SpaceX conducted the first test launch of Starship on April 20. The rocket exploded in less than four minutes after take-off, damaging the launch pad at Starbase and raining down dust on Port Isabel, Texas residents.
The rocket manufacturer admitted that the concrete launch pad deck was damaged during the first launch test of Starship, spreading some debris and dust. However, the FAA is presently evaluating it and SpaceX is working toward another launch of Starship/Super Heavy, it added.
Further, though early developmental testing activities resulted in fires and scattered debris, none had a ‘significant impact,’ the company said.
Why It Matters: Environmental groups including The Center for Biological Diversity, the American Bird Conservancy, the Surfrider Foundation, Save Rio Grande Valley and the cultural heritage organization Carrizo-Comecrudo Nation of Texas filed a lawsuit against the FAA in early May.
The complaint alleges that FAA authorized the launch without complying with bedrock federal environmental law. The FAA did not prepare an environmental impact statement but instead relied on a less thorough analysis prepared by SpaceX before issuing a clearance to launch, the suit alleged.
The suit was filed against FAA and acting FAA administrator Billy Nolen in his official capacity but did not list SpaceX as a defendant. However, later in May, SpaceX requested to join FAA as a defendant stating that the government agency cannot adequately represent SpaceX’s private interests.
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