A federal report shows that SpaceX has canceled its plans to build a small liquefied natural gas plant at its Boca Chica launch site in Texas. According to a US Fish & Wildlife Service document obtained by Bloomberg through an open records request, SpaceX is no longer planning to build a desalination plant, power plant, natural gas pretreatment system, and liquefier at the site’s vertical launch area.
Previous assessments in September and October detailed the SpaceX plans. An emailed comment request to SpaceX didn’t receive a response immediately. Musk, who supports vertical integration, at one point, proposed drilling wells at the launch site to produce his own natural gas, which would be treated, supercooled and used as rocket fuel.
SpaceX continues to use natural gas despite the change in plans. Despite using liquid methane for rocket fuel, RGV Aerial Photography images appear to show the company has built a natural gas power plant near its manufacturing and production areas. Stabilis Solutions continues to deliver LNG tanker trucks to Starbase. The Texas beach where the Rio Grande empties into the Gulf of Mexico is home to a coalition of environmentalists and community groups opposed to SpaceX’s expansion.
The Federal Aviation Administration has delayed its review of the company’s plans twice, though the US Fish & Wildlife Service recommended several mitigation measures in its biological assessment. There were also measures taken to minimize the impact on sea turtles, including hiring a biologist to monitor vegetation and birds and providing a shuttle service between the launch facility and nearby Brownsville. SpaceX’s biological monitoring plan has been updated, according to the latest report.