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NASA is concerned its launchpads may be destroyed by SpaceX's Starship

An alternative launch site for SpaceX's Starship resides in Cape Canaveral, where the important Launch Complex 39A may be at risk.

Published Jun 17, 2022 4:01 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Jul 12 2022 8:04 AM CDT

A senior official from NASA has told Reuters it is concerned about damage to its launch infrastructure.

NASA is concerned its launchpads may be destroyed by SpaceX's Starship 01 |

The primary home for Starship is at SpaceX's Starbase facility, located in Boca Chica, Texas. Both Starship and the facility have been the subject of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) environmental assessment that was recently finalized. While the assessment was underway for the first half of 2022 and earlier, SpaceX constructed an orbital launchpad for Starship in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

At the same facilities in Cape Canaveral exists Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. From here, SpaceX launches its Crew Dragon capsule, which ferries astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA. As it is the only launchpad approved for Crew Dragon, NASA wants SpaceX that Starship poses no risk to the pad as a result of some catastrophic incident such as an explosion.

"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. SpaceX is working with us on those things. Because it's also in their best interest to not have what is a pretty steady source of income for them become interrupted," said Kathy Lueders, NASA's space operations chief.

"The problem is the explosive potential for that combination is not well known," said Randy Repcheck, a deputy manager in the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation, which oversees launchpad safety, regarding the novel liquid oxygen and methane fuel that Starship uses.

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