[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 128 (Monday, July 6, 2015)]
[Pages 38504-38505]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-16464]



Federal Aviation Administration

Office of Commercial Space Transportation; Notice of Availability 
of the Final Environmental Assessment (Final EA), Finding of No 
Significant Impact (FONSI), and Record of Decision (ROD) for the 
Houston Spaceport, City of Houston, Harris County, Texas

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of 

ACTION: Notice of Availability of the Final EA and FONSI/ROD.


SUMMARY: In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969, as amended (NEPA; 42 United States Code 4321 et seq.), Council on 
Environmental Quality NEPA implementing regulations (40 Code of Federal 
Regulations parts 1500 to 1508), and FAA Order 1050.1E, Change 1, 
Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures, the FAA is announcing 
the availability of the Final EA and FONSI/ROD for the Houston 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Daniel Czelusniak, Office of 
Commercial Space Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 
Independence Ave. SW., Suite 325, Washington DC 20591; phone (202) 267-
5924; or email [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Final EA was prepared to analyze the 
potential environmental impacts of Houston Airport System's (HAS's) 
proposal to establish and operate a commercial space launch site at the 
Ellington Airport (EFD), in Houston, Texas and offer the site to 
prospective commercial space launch operators for the operation of 
horizontal take-off and horizontal landing Concept X and Concept Z 
reusable launch vehicles (RLVs). To operate a commercial space launch 
site, HAS must obtain a commercial space launch site operator license 
from the FAA. Under the Proposed Action addressed in the Final EA, the 
FAA would: (1) Issue a launch site operator license to HAS for the 
operation of a commercial space launch site at EFD; (2) issue launch 
licenses to prospective commercial space launch operators that would 
allow them to conduct launches of horizontal take-off and horizontal 
landing Concept X and Concept Z RLVs from EFD, and (3) provide 
unconditional approval to the Airport Layout Plan (ALP) modifications 
that reflect the designation of a spaceport boundary and construction 
of planned spaceport facilities and infrastructure. Proposed launch 
operations would begin in 2015 and continue through 2019 in accordance 
with the terms of the launch site operator license. HAS proposes to 
provide RLV operators the ability to conduct up to 50 launches and 
landings (or 100 operations) per year, with approximately five percent 
of the operations expected to occur during night-time hours.
    The Final EA addresses the potential environmental impacts of 
implementing the Proposed Action and the No Action Alternative. Under 
the No Action Alternative, the FAA would not issue a launch site 
operator license to HAS, and thus no launch licenses would be issued to 
individual commercial space launch vehicle operators to operate at EFD. 
Also, there would be no need to update the EFD ALP, and thus there 
would be no FAA approval of a revised ALP. Existing operations would 
continue at EFD, which is currently classified as a general aviation 
reliever airport.
    The environmental impact categories considered in the Final EA 
include air quality; climate; coastal resources; compatible land use; 
Department of Transportation Act: Section 4(f); fish, wildlife, and 
plants; floodplains; hazardous materials, pollution prevention, and 
solid waste; historical, architectural, archaeological, and cultural 
resources; light emissions and visual impacts; natural resources and 
energy supply; noise; socioeconomics, environmental justice, and 
children's environmental health and safety risks; water quality; and 
wetlands. The Final EA also considers the potential secondary (induced) 
impacts and cumulative impacts.
    The FAA has posted the Final EA and FONSI/ROD on the FAA Office of 
Commercial Space Transportation Web site: http://www.faa.gov/about/

[[Page 38505]]

    The FAA published a Notice of Availability (NOA) of the Draft EA in 
the Federal Register on December 31, 2014. The NOA was also published 
in the Houston Chronicle on January 7, 2015, and in the Bay Area 
Citizen, Pasadena Citizen, Friendswood Journal, and Pearl Journal on 
January 8, 2015. An electronic version of the Draft EA was also made 
available on the FAA Web site. In addition, the FAA printed and mailed 
a copy of the Draft EA to the following libraries: Clear Lake City-
County Freeman Branch Library, Friendswood Public Library, Alvin 
Library, Hitchcock Public Library, and Reagan County Library. The FAA 
held an open house public meeting on January 22, 2015 from 5:30 p.m. to 
8:30 p.m. at the Space Center Houston, Silvermoon Conference Room. The 
public comment period ended on January 31, 2015. Public comments on the 
Draft EA resulted in minor changes to the EA.

    Issued in Washington, DC on June 24, 2015.
Daniel Murray,
Manager, Space Transportation Development Division.
[FR Doc. 2015-16464 Filed 7-2-15; 8:45 am]