A federal lawsuit has been filed by wildlife and environmental groups against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over SpaceX’s recent rocket launch. On April 20, the Starship launched from Texas and exploded over the Gulf of Mexico at 24 miles (39 km). The almost 400-foot (120-meter) rocket exploded a few minutes into its test flight as its self-destruct system spun out of control. The FAA failed to consider the environmental impact of the Starship program near Boca Chica Beach, South Texas, according to plaintiffs like the Center for Biological Diversity. They have called on the court to annul the five-year license granted by the FAA to SpaceX.
The FAA has refused to provide comment, as it does not normally comment on ongoing litigation. It has, however, launched an accident investigation and ordered that all SpaceX Starships remain grounded until the question of public safety is resolved. Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, has said that his company could be ready to launch the next Starship in six to eight weeks, subject to the agreement of the FAA. Except for the carvings formed in the concrete pad when most of the rocket’s 33 main engines burned after liftoff, there were no reports of damage to public property or injuries caused by the rocket wreckage or flying pad debris.
All the same, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a considerable amount of concrete chunks, stainless steel sheets, and other materials were flung thousands of feet (hundreds of meters) away from the pad, while a plume of pulverized concrete caused its own damage. The launch site is located on a remote part of the southern tip of Texas, below South Padre Island, and roughly 20 miles away from Brownsville.
NASA plans to use Starship to transport passengers to the moon by 2025, therefore the lawsuit focuses on a mission to send people and cargo there. This lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington by the American Bird Conservancy, the Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas, Save RGV, and the Surfrider Foundation.
Jared Margolis, a spokesperson for the Center for Biological Diversity, has claimed that it is essential to protect life on Earth even while looking to the stars. Margolis added that federal officials should safeguard vulnerable habitats rather than allow corporations to use coastal landscapes as dumping sites for space waste.
Musk has indicated that changes will be made to the rocket before it is flown next. He said that the self-destruct system would need to be modified so that it explodes instantly, rather than some 40 seconds later, as seen during this first test run. Musk was speaking to a subscriber-only Twitter chat on Saturday night and these remarks were later posted by other individuals online.