X33 Environmental Impact Statement A Study in Velocity

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X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” Or How Fast Can You Do

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” Or How Fast Can You Do an Environmental Impact Statement?

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” SO YOU WANT TO BUILD A

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” SO YOU WANT TO BUILD A SPACEPORT? Well, what are the environmental challenges ahead of you? We have much to learn from the X-33 experience: • What are the issues associated with constructing and operating spaceports? • Who wants to have input to your decisions? • How long does it take to identify and resolve the issues? • Are there any surprises in store?

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • X-33 was designed to be

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • X-33 was designed to be sub-orbital • Testing technologies for Venture. Star • This presented unique issues regarding landing sites and recovery operations • It also required construction of facilities at multiple sites • And transportation between sites

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • An EIS normally takes from

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • An EIS normally takes from 18 to 24 months to complete • Scoping • Field Studies • Analyses • Document Preparation • Public Review • We were given 12 months • We did it in 13 months

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” LONG MEDIUM SHORT • Edwards Air

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” LONG MEDIUM SHORT • Edwards Air Force Base had already been selected as the launch site • This had been selected using a previous environmental study for the program • There were three flight expansion envelopes • But multiple landing sites for each envelope • These became the alternatives addressed in the EIS

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • So once you have the

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • So once you have the site, the rest should be relatively easy. • That is, the main issues that could cause you to spend time and resources should be obvious, right?

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • Enter the Desert Tortoise: •

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • Enter the Desert Tortoise: • This is an Endangered Species native to this region • There are strict controls protecting them • Harassment is prohibited • Picking one up to move it off the road to “save” it is considered harassment because if you scare it, it may “lose all its water” and dehydrate and die • Therefore, strict controls during construction such as stopping all traffic when a tortoise was crossing the road.

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • Short range landing sites included

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • Short range landing sites included numerous “dry”lake beds in the EAFB region • Many of these were on federal (Bureau of Land Management) lands • These areas are open for public use Silurian Dry Lake Bed • So, what’s the Problem? • While private vehicles can drive on the lake without permission, NASA was required to get permits to use it • The specific types of activities and areas of impact needed to be approved by BLM • And, State Highway 127 is the only road with miles of the site, a traffic control plan was required

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • So assuming you’ve got all

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • So assuming you’ve got all the site construction issues addressed, • What about operations? • Well, again, you have to be aware of and protect our friends, the Desert Tortoises. • Of course, flight safety and the probability if catastrophic failure was a major concern and the corresponding risk assessments took much of the analysis efforts. • However, some of the more interesting issues arose from the noise impacts analyses….

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” We looked at noise impacts for

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” We looked at noise impacts for static test firing and liftoff at the launch site We also looked at noise impacts related to flight conditions to both on-base and off-site communities

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • The flight path generates two

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • The flight path generates two types of sonic booms: • Normal Mid-range • Focused • The focused boom results from the acceleration of the vehicle • It is more powerful that the sonic boom from normal or decelerating flight • The position and intensity of the effect is dependent on the trajectory, vehicle configuration and atmospheric conditions Long-range

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” Of interest to us were the

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” Of interest to us were the recipients of these noise impacts We addressed this, in part, by looking at the land use categories that lay underneath the projected flight paths for each alternative Land Use Categories

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” The launch noise and focus boom

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” The launch noise and focus boom did not affect much but BLM lands However, for the mid-range site, the landing sonic booms had the potential to impact several Indian Reservations, much of which is considered Sacred Lands by the residents!

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” However, the peak sonic boom overpressures

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” However, the peak sonic boom overpressures from normal flight operations to the proposed longrange landing site could effect eight mountain passes and five ski areas. So we had to address the potential for these flights to produce snow avalanches! The Long-range site also had few issues associated with launch impacts

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • We asked how the vehicle

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • We asked how the vehicle would be returned to the launch site • We were told that the ONLY possible way to bring it back was atop the NASA 747 Carrier Aircraft

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • After completion of the EIS,

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” • After completion of the EIS, during implementation planning, it was determined that this approach was not workable • It was decided to put the vehicle on a carrier and bring it back to the launch site over the public roads There was then a follow-on study done to determine the most feasible route to use

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” Summary • The environmental process is

X-33 Environmental Impact Statement: A Study in “Velocity” Summary • The environmental process is your friend, it can help resolve potential problems before they become bigger, so use it. • Allow sufficient time and resources to perform the needed analyses. • Start early. • Each project is unique, so don’t be surprised at what you find. • We are here to help, if you want it! Mario Busacca 321 -867 -8456 mario. [email protected] nasa. gov