Gulf of Mexico
Birds will pass SpaceX’s Starship SN8 on December 4, a few days before the test launch in Bocachica, Texas. Photo: Gene Brevins / Reuters

TX - Elon Musk's SpaceX launch site threatens wildlife, says Texas environmental groups

SpaceX’s starship jumped over southern Texas last March, with tangerine flames and white smoke erupting behind it, making it look very normal. However, about 6 minutes after the test flight, the spacecraft returned to Earth.

SpaceX, a company founded by Elon Musk in 2002, has a “test, fly, fail, fix, repeat” method for its commercial space program. That approach is part of why Musk wanted to place a launch site on land near the Gulf of Mexico, near the Texas-Mexico border. “We have a lot of empty land around, so if it explodes, it’s cool,” Musk reportedly said at a 2018 press conference.

But David Newstead, director of the non-profit Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries, was sick of seeing a fireball exploding on the launch pad. SpaceX’s site is surrounded by land protected by state and federal governments..The explosion scattered rocket debris in parts of the delicate ecosystems of the Bokatika region of the Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Sanctuary, including tidal flats, beaches, grasslands and coastal dunes inhabited by a variety of wildlife.

“I knew from other explosions that rockets would be scattered throughout the shelter,” Newstead said. He added that the cleanup took three months.

The private space race has already raised concerns about the potential climate impact of the fuel needed to propel rockets. But terrestrial environmentalists in southern Texas say the SpaceX test site has a more direct impact.

The remains of a SpaceX starship that exploded on land in Bocachica, Texas in May. Photo: Reginald Mathalone / NurPhoto / REX / Shutterstock

The shelter consists of plots purchased or leased by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since federal agencies planned to protect as much land as possible in the Gulf Coast and the mouth of the Rio Grande in 1979. It has been. Create patchwork of possible, federally controlled shelters. As part of this, the agency has managed 1,000 acres (404 hectares) of Bocachica State Park since 2007.

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