Wednesday, June 19, 2024

FAA Ends Public Comment on Starship Expansion on Cape

As part of approval for SpaceX adding a second Starship launch complex on the Kennedy Space Center, the FAA has been soliciting comments from everyone. The results are to be considered in preparing the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Payload Space carries the story.  

Frankly, the comments surprised me because I've never met people who feel this way. It seems those who commented think the average two launches in a week of a Falcon 9 are too loud and too much to bear. They're afraid of destruction from the sounds and are worried the much bigger Starship/SuperHeavy will be far worse.

“Every time that there is a Falcon 9 launch, depending on where the wind is coming from, you can hear a fairly potent rattling of windows,” said Pablo Deleon, a resident of Cape Canaveral.

As they see it, the noise complaints can’t be solved with earplugs and quiet hours. Many commenters voiced concerns about infrastructural damage that could come with the added launch frequency.

“We need to come up with a mitigation plan to where we don’t destroy our beloved structures in the area in the name of progress in space exploration,” said Brad Whitmore, a resident of Cocoa Village, 20 miles from the launch site.

The first comment about fairly potent window rattling is something I view as a feature, not a bug, but I'm also around 30 to 35 miles from the launch pads and we enjoy the launch rumble. It figures to be louder as you get closer to the pad. We have noticed that when the weather conditions and trajectory are just right for a "really good" rumble, our patio doors will shake enough to rattle. Mrs. Graybeard put a toothpick between them and silenced it.

At least one other commenter said that the EIS the FAA approved for Boca Chica was bad and doesn't want to see anything like that here. 

“In Boca Chica, the FAA has taken the position that deluge waste water from Starship craft is indistinguishable from stormwater… and this is in direct contradiction of the Clean Water Act,” said Eric Roesch, a frequent watcher of federal approvals in the oil and gas industry.

Let's see: SuperHeavy burns methane with oxygen - both are liquidized for better handling - and it's about as simple a chemical equation to balance as you'll ever find.

CH4 + 2 O2 → CO2 + 2 H2O

Methane and oxygen burn to produce carbon dioxide (plant food) and water (also good for plants). What else is in the waste water? Maybe bits of dirt that were under the launch pad? Maybe flakes of paint? That should be all there is, so what's in there that's so much worse than stormwater runoff that I'm missing?

A particularly pretty photo of an evening Falcon 9 launch, January 2023. Image credit: Trevor Mahlmann

The few quotes acknowledged, my perspective is entirely different. There's a handful of places in the world where you can watch rockets launch from your yard. I've been blessed enough to watch a couple of launches from the Cape itself with the required pass to get there. After the first minute, it doesn't look extremely different than from my yard. Of all the places in the world where you can watch them, we're the only place with a launch rate well over 100 in a year. China might be close, but they drop boosters on populated areas and we don't. 

The Cape has been America's primary launch facility since the start of the space program, and the creation of NASA. I moved here in the early years of the space shuttle program and every place I worked, people would go outside to watch a shuttle launch, spending a few minutes watching until the SRBs were dropped instead of taking a regular break time. 

I consider it practically a privilege to live here. They seem to consider it an annoyance.


  1. Rocketdyne used to hot-fire SSMEs up at the Santa Susana Field Lab and it is quite near the Bell Canyon development with multi-million dollar homes. The churning and mixing exhaust plume as it rose in the air during the 10 second firing was better than any special effect.

    Bell Canyon would get some Rocket Rain after an engine test and at least one resident was convinced they were being poisoned. The resident was NOT happy when the analysis came back as water with some concrete fragments...

  2. Moves next to (launch complexes, airport, industrial complex, livestock farm, sewage treatment center, golf course, gun range, military base, landfill, railroad, (enter any other noisy or smelly or busy place)) and then complains about... noise and/or smell and/or traffic.

    Cape Canaveral was there long time before all those condos and mcmansions. Screw them.

    I remember when condos on the barrier islands advertised 'good view of the Cape and launches.)

    And I remember all those people living in sight/sound range of the Cape bitching horribly about how horrible the dark times after Apollo and before the Shuttle were. Good neighborhoods vacated by ex-Apollo era program employees and the death of infrastructure.

    Though I can see SpaceX installing blast walls around their launch complexes to mitigate issues caused by the blast at ground level up to 20' or so.

    1. In CA, the identity of commenters is now not disclosed. Before that became law, it was found that every of the over 4,000 complaints about airport noise originated from two couples. Husbands and wives who lived next to each other in a new housing development. Those 4,000 complaints were all within one year.
      (an airport I used a lot, so I took notice)

      Courts in several states have held that newcomers have every right as anyone else. Their complaints are therefore legitimate with respect to every public works, or private development. This regardless of who was there first.

      It's stupifying and absurd

      Also, Realtors have a handout as part of home and land purchase. It is a disclaimer which notify in writing the prospective owner of possible hazards, smells, noises, et. It is a binding document part of the purchase. Not signing can stop a transfer of title. However, there are many instances of the courts holding the doc in disregard.

      Utterly absurd.

  3. BANANAS (Build Absolututely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) people are mentally ill. They have self-loathing replacing their will to live, and apparently can't be treated. They're part of the human extinction movement, and want to put you in Jonestown. Follow their wishes at peril of species extinction. Perhaps this behavior comes from the human version of the rat utopia?

  4. Beans is right! The Starship/Booster combo is a whole lot louder than even a Falcon Heavy, but the 5 F-1s of the Apollo program would give it a run for the money. The rockets should have precedence as they were there first. Multiple daily flights will certainly make it interesting. The visible shock waves from the Booster plume are impressive to say the least.

    1. I am sooo bummed that my family moved to Brevard County after Skylab launched. Never got to see 5 F-1s roaring at the same time.

      I only got to see the anemic (in comparison) launch of Saturn 1-Bs for the Skylabs and Apollo-Soyuz.

      Bummed... Bummed I am.

  5. You fail to note what the watermelons think about storm water runoff.
    They consider it to be worse than conservatives!

  6. Like a lot of Space Development, folks don't SEE the technology being used in improving their lives.

    I still say for example that the NIMBY folks would get shouted down if a nuclear power plant simply gave FREE Electricity to all homes with in 50 miles forever.

    The "Cost" in electricity would be a pittance to the production of that plant's operations.

    And FREE Electricity forever would be an awesome selling point.

    Space so far hasn't shown that level of Average Joe marketing. Thus, pitiful people buy a Condo NEXT to a launch pad to complain about the noise.

  7. I grew up in the DFW area not to far from DFW Airport. My Dad always got a chuckle when the news reported a homeowners group that was making a formal complaint about the noise of the airport. My Dad's favorite response was that the Airport existed Prior to the housing developments that surround it, those people knowingly bought houses KNOWING that a Big Airport was next door, then wants to complain about airport noise????
    Does make me wonder what vanishing small percentage of noise complaints at the Cape are from people who were actually there BEFORE the Rockets.
    The "news" should search high and low for that Antiquated individual that has firm ground to base their complaint, but that would require searching and work by our "news" rather than pushing their own agenda.
    MSG Grumpy

    1. The answer to your question about legacy homeowners is... there pretty much aren't any. The Cape's been in business for a very very long time doing noisy and destructive things.

      It's like the idiots who complain about the runway at Patrick Space Force Base and all the traffic that comes in and out. Which used to be Patrick Air Force Base which used to be the Banana River Naval Air Station (home of the Martin Mariner sea plane that exploded searching for Flight 19.)

      The Cape's been doing Capy things since the 40's. And the area started out barren, with some people in Cocoa and Rockledge. Some...

    2. Like you say, there just wasn't much here before the CCAFS. The legacy homeowners from the 1950s worked on the Cape. Some of them started or moved businesses into the area and basically grew the county from nothing much like a lot of other hi-tech hubs.

      One of my favorite restaurants in the county (closed now) was founded by a couple from around White Sands; he got transferred to the Cape, she was a nurse, I think. They had friends over for New Mexican food they missed. (New Mex Mex? instead of Tex Mex) and opened the Alamo on US1.

    3. Aw, poop, The Alamo is gone? Loved that place when I was down there. Best NewMex/Tex food around. I guess they're right, you can never go home...

  8. I hate that I have to share the planet with people like this.

    1. Hear you buddy. The human extinction movement, got up out of the bed this mourning, looked in the mirror, brushed their teeth, and decided what they would destroy today.

  9. In NASA’s early my grandparents used to take photos of the launches and send them to me. They could watch the launch from their background (not sure how much detail they saw).
    Ah, well, all times have their excitement. A friend of mine got to help with the recent of some pico balloons at the last Hamvention. One is down, but the other is on its second trip around the planet. It’s just passed Japan, and if it’s trajectory continues to stay steady, it’s headed to Baja California.
    I’m following it on The balloon is W8BI-12
    This is a project she is setting up for her STEM ARC Club.
    I’m helping with the website.