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Starship may have bigger problems than just getting its launch right

Published Jun 14th, 2024 3:36PM EDT
starship launch test
Image: SpaceX

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SpaceX wants to bring Starship to Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A. The space center is iconic in the space community, having hosted many of the biggest space launches in history. However, comments from nearby residents about growing Starship environmental concerns could cause some problems for SpaceX’s plans.

According to Florida Today, some residents around the Cape are concerned about the damage that Starship launches could cause to the Indian River Lagoon, which is already imperiled. One resident claims she moved onto the river in 2011 and that within three years, the waterfront had gone from thriving and “brackish, coastal waterfront” to being dead with on grass, plants, or manatees.

Starship is the most powerful rocket ever built, something that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has bragged about often. As such, it causes quite a stir when it lifts off. Additionally, bringing it to pad 39A would require additional structures to be built. SpaceX also wants to land Starship and Super Heavy boosters at the pad and in the Atlantic Ocean at least 5 nautical miles offshore.

Starship’s past troubled launches probably also don’t help with the growing environmental concerns, either. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently collecting comments on the plan, and a meeting is scheduled for next week to discuss everything.

watch Heavy Falcon launchImage source: SpaceX

But, it isn’t just Starship’s environmental concerns that have people balking at the possibility of SpaceX moving the massive rocket to Kennedy Space Center. Some are also worried about the noise and vibrations that the rocket will release at launch.

One resident says that rumblings from SpaceX Falcon 9 launches over the past year have caused the plaster in the ceiling and walls of his 105-year-old historic house to crack. He says others in the area have also voiced similar concerns about the structural damage that could be done to their homes if Starship and Super-Heavy boosters start launching from pad 39A.

Considering SpaceX’s Super-Heavy booster and Starship are both much more powerful than the standard Falcon-9, which already causes vibrations throughout homes, these concerns are certainly well warranted. It will be interesting to see how SpaceX and NASA choose to address these concerns as we advance.

Starship is vital to NASA’s future space exploration plans. But it’s also important for the agency to properly address each of these Starship environmental concerns. We can’t kill parts of our planet just because we want to get to the stars.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.