A West Texas city's plans for spaceflight have been postponed by the mating habits of a threatened species of chicken.
The Midland Reporter-Telegram
reported the city is awaiting clearance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a Federal Aviation Administration spaceport license. Midland International Airport has been working to become the first in the nation to offer commercial and spaceflight from its runways.
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The lesser prairie-chicken was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in March, prompting the city to apply for an addendum to its service application, The Associated Press reported.
The service is worried that sonic booms would disrupt the bird's early morning mating habits. City officials maintain the sounds won't harm the chickens.
Midland Director of Airports Marv Esterly offered to send biologists to Andrews County to study how the first five launches would impact the chickens.
“They are really sensitive to what’s out there,” Esterly said during Tuesday’s Spaceport Development Corp. meeting. “We feel the sonic boom is so small – so much less than a thunder clap – that it won’t have an effect.”
The FAA has until mid-September to issue the spaceport license, a process that's taken nearly two years.
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