Tech

Texas locals say FAA failed them in finding SpaceX's launch site won't cause environmental impact

Business Insider US
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk next to SpaceX's first orbital Starship SN20 is stacked atop its massive Super Heavy Booster 4 at the company's Starbase facility near Boca Chica Village in South Texas. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk next to SpaceX's first orbital Starship SN20 is stacked atop its massive Super Heavy Booster 4 at the company's Starbase facility near Boca Chica Village in South Texas. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images
  • The FAA said SpaceX can expand a launch site once it complies with 75 terms, angering Texas locals.
  • An environmental non-profit claimed the FAA didn't properly reach out to those impacted.
  • One local said SpaceX should be shut down, while another said the FAA failed the community.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Locals in south Texas said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had let them down after it found no significant environmental impact with SpaceX's launch site in Boca Chica.

After an almost two-year wait, the FAA concluded in a 43-page review that Elon Musk's space company can expand its Texas launch site but only if the company takes more than 75 actions to mitigate the environmental impacts.

If SpaceX complies with the 75 terms, it will receive a licence so it can expand the facility, known as Starbase, and launch its massive Starship rocket into orbit for the first time.

Sierra Club, an environmental nonprofit, sent a statement to Insider, claiming the FAA didn't meaningfully reach out to impacted communities while it was conducting the review. The organisation also claimed SpaceX's site expansion and its launch of Starship — the rocket it wants to send to Mars — will significantly cause more damage to the surrounding wildlife and communities.

"The FAA has failed the people of the Rio Grande Valley and the People of Texas," Dave Cortez, a director within Sierra Club, said in the statement. The organisation "strongly condemns" the FAA's decision and is calling on officials to consider the negative effects of SpaceX's expansion in the area, he added.

Juan Mancias, chairman of the Carrizo/Comecrudo tribe, said in the statement that the FAA should have requested a full environmental review into SpaceX's activity. 

"This land, this beach, does not belong to Elon Musk and is not a commodity for his delusions of intergalactic grandeur," Mancias said. "SpaceX as a whole needs to be shut down."

Sierra Club organiser Emma Guevara, also a resident, described the FAA's decision in the statement as "incredibly disappointing and frustrating."

While Michelle Serrano, a communications strategist with Latino-led nonprofit Voces Unidas, said in the statement that elected officials and government leaders have to listen to the community and prevent the destruction of Boca Chica Beach, where SpaceX is based.

SpaceX and the FAA didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment made outside of normal working hours.

"One step closer to the orbital flight test of Starship," SpaceX tweeted on Monday, linking to the FAA's review. The FAA started its review of SpaceX's launch site in July 2020 and was supposed to be finished by December 2021.

Locals in Brownsville — considered one of the poorest cities in the US, according to a 2018 analysis — have previously told Insider about SpaceX's impact on the surrounding environmental habitats, as well as rising house prices.


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