South Texans are publicly fighting SpaceX after second Starship launch

A person looks on as SpaceX’s huge Super Heavy-Starship is unstacked from the booster as it sits on the launchpad at Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, on November 16, 2023, ahead of its second test flight posponed to November 18. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on November 15, 2023 authorized SpaceX to carry out its second launch of Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built, after a first attempt in April ended in a spectacular explosion. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

By Andrea Guzman,
Published by Chron, 22 November 2023

Starship’s second launch brought more outcry from local organizations.

SpaceX’s second launch attempt of its Starship rocket on Saturday has been commended for its improvement from the first launch, which ended with the rocket exploding after reaching 24 miles into the air. 

But for some South Texas residents, SpaceX’s operations are not a cause for celebration. 

In a press release after Saturday’s launch, South Texas organizations said that local residents again experienced their homes shaking and debris falling on the community. 

“Musk and his pet vanity project continue to pollute and destroy our beautiful beach, coastline, and wildlife. SpaceX, an unnecessary, private money grab that only serves the wealthy, refuses to follow safety regulations, environmental regulations, and the wishes of local communities and the original people of the land,” said Christopher Basaldú with South Texas Environmental Justice Network. 

Meanwhile, grassroots collaborative Another Gulf Is Possible, which has members from Brownsville, Texas, to Pensacola, Florida, has invited the public to a documentary screening in Brownsville about community objection to SpaceX on Dec. 1. The film will explore how Brownsville residents and the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas have battled “the encroachment of SpaceX on pristine lands,” an event invitation says. The documentary will also look at how South Texans have fought against two proposed LNG projects

The invite notes that through storytelling and interviews, the filmmakers “delve into the heart of this struggle, shedding light on the undeniable consequences these powerful forces impose on the people, the environment, and the delicate ecosystem of the region.” 

South Texans have long called out environmental and logistical concerns around Starship launches. In an April statement before the launch, multiple organizations stood in opposition to SpaceX, noting the company closed Boca Chica Beach from the public and that its activities threaten wildlife species in the area. Afterward, environmental groups sued the Federal Aviation Administration, accusing the agency of not carrying out an environmental review before the launch.

Meanwhile, SpaceX thought the FAA moved too slowly. In an October hearing before Congress, SpaceX executive William Gerstenmaier said licensing and environmental approval often takes longer than rocket development and said that “should never happen.”

Shortly after, SpaceX got its wish. A license was granted last week and a second launch took place from Boca Chica over the weekend. SpaceX shared glee over the rocket’s performance, saying the test will help improve the rocket’s reliability as the company “seeks to make life multi-planetary.” 

South Texans remained focused on SpaceX’s impact on planet Earth. Following Saturday’s launch, others called out not just SpaceX but those cheering on its work. 

“Today people across America are distracted by the allure of space travel while our community continues to suffer from SpaceX’s inadequate protections for our neighbors and natural places,” Emma Guevara with Sierra Club said. 

Next Friday’s documentary screening will be held at Brownsville’s Rio Bravo Office Space from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

See: Original Article