Work is up full throttle to bring SapceX’s vision of transporting astronauts to and fro its International Space Station into reality. As part of this program it needs the Gulf of Mexico as an emergency landing site in case its existing ones fail to be available.
In this context, the Draft Environment Assessment report was released by Federal Aviation Administration wherein SpaceX has sought permission for using Gulf of Mexico as a splashdown location for its Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX will need a re-entry license to be issued by FAA as it plans to perform up to six landings of its spacecraft annually. The site refers to the Gulf of Mexico waters stretching from Texas to Florida. The organization currently uses Pacific Ocean for its splashdown operations besides having permission to do so in the Atlantic Ocean too.
The need for the Gulf coast waters is felt to provide a secure and well-timed landing for its manned spacecraft crew once its commercial crew project takes off. This will ensure that no danger is posed to human life or health. The presence of landing site in this region would assist missions commencing from a site being developed in Texas as well as from Florida.
The report contains evaluation of the possible effects on several factors. Weather, air quality, noise, marine life such as aquatic animals and plants; water, coastal and natural resources; solid pollutants, lethal materials etc are just to name a few of them. The report makes an inclusion of the findings of the environmental impact caused by the earlier Dragon splashdowns in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
The report has been opened for public comment up to 4 May 2018. However, the re-entry license issuance to SpaceX cannot be guaranteed even if the process of environmental review is successfully completed.
SpaceX has equipped a ship called ‘Mr Steven’ to catch hold of the fairing before it splashdowns into the ocean waters. However, this recovery effort did not meet much success during its March 30th operation.