NASA Working with SpaceX to Ensure Starship Launch Won’t Harm Nearby Infrastructure

NASA is requesting that SpaceX ensure a launch of the Starship rocket would avoid risking any nearby launch infrastructure, according to a senior official from the space agency speaking with Reuters.

The news adds another complication to the company’s Starship launch plans, after the launch has been delayed multiple times for an ongoing environmental review from the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA).

The new request could push the launch of SpaceX’s Starship even further back, and they’ll also require the company to consider other plans.

“We all recognize that if you had an early failure like we did on one of the early SpaceX flights, it would be pretty devastating to 39A,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s space operations chief, in an interview of the agency’s discussions with SpaceX.

A source told Reuters SpaceX plans to ask NASA to use Launch Complex 40, its other pad five miles away from the Space Force location, as another location to launch U.S. astronauts.

Lueders said SpaceX is looking at ways to reinforce 39A from Starship liftoff forces. Any decisions for Launch Complex 40 and 39A would require agency permission.

“SpaceX is working with us on those things,” said Lueders. “Because it’s also in their best interest to not have what is a pretty steady source of income for them become interrupted.”

As one potential option, the company may choose to launch Starship from a different Florida launchpad.

However, a change such as this may require months of time to gain regulatory approval.

SpaceX leaders met with NASA over the weekend to discuss updates on an upcoming Starship mission to the moon.

The Artemis-III mission, set for April 2025, will use Starship and will also put the first woman on the moon.

Eventually, SpaceX head Musk hopes the Starship spacecraft will be able to take astronauts to Mars for the first time in human history.

SpaceX is still awaiting FAA approval for its first orbital Starship flight to launch the spacecraft, with a decision expected today.