Public invited to comment on environmental assessment for space reentry vehicles

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently invited the public to comment on a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for Huntsville International Airport in Huntsville, Ala., to serve as a reentry site for horizontally landed commercial reentry vehicles.

The draft includes a proposal by Sierra Space Corporation to land its Dream Chaser vehicle at the site up to eight times between 2023 and 2027.

The Huntsville-Madison Airport Authority seeks a Reentry Site Operator License, and Sierra Space seeks a Vehicle Operator License.

As part of the licensing process, a draft review is conducted. This assessment addresses the potential environmental impacts of the proposed reentry operations, including associated airspace closures.

The FAA will revise the draft following the public comment period and prepare a final EA. It will either issue a Finding of No Significant Impact or a Notice of Intent to prepare a more comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement.

After completing the environmental review, the FAA will make licensing determinations so long as all applicable safety and financial responsibility requirements are met.

Commercial space vehicle operators seeking to conduct reentry operations at the airport must obtain their own FAA licenses. Each applicant would require a separate environmental review.

The FAA will hold a virtual public hearing for the draft review on Dec. 9.