The primary goal of Elon Musk's space-travel company SpaceX is to turn the great beyond into a tourist destination. Instead of space being restricted to astronauts and researchers, could a typical person see Earth from above? Well, if you’re rich enough to sit inside Musk's fancy spaceship, sure! However, the environment might pay the price.
Reported by The Guardian, the chosen SpaceX launch site in Boca Chica, Texas has been deemed at risk my environmentalists. In its current state, Boca Chica has been described as a “delicate ecosystem”. The Musk-owned space program threatens to disturb it.
SpaceX Boca Chica launch site is dangerous
The Boca Chica testing grounds currently occupied by Musk's space company is surrounded by federally protected lands. However, that hasn't stopped the company from consistently littering delicate areas such as the Lower Rio Grande Valley national wildlife refuge.
It’s noted that a large amount of SpaceX’s littering comes from its “test, fly, fail, fix, repeat” method of spaceship testing. Failed projects explode in the sky, raining debris onto protected Boca Chica land. The reserve currently houses “a plethora of vulnerable species”, including sea turtles and shorebirds.
Musk's company is said to have “dumped runoff water directly into the tidal flats”, where space debris also falls. The polluted tidal flats used to house an estimated dozen nesting grounds. However, as SpaceX continues to abuse to area, that number has stopped to just two.
Pleasing the company is more important
As the environment continues to take a beating from the company's activities, the company is seemingly backed by Texas officials. Despite constant complaints of the company's damage, including official reports to the FAA, SpaceX continues to damage without consequence.
Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries director David Newstead revealed that just one exploded rocket took three months to cleanup. Initially, the company's presence “didn't seem like a big deal”. However, that sentiment has quickly changed.
“These are complex systems, some of the only ones of their kind left in the world,” Newstead told The Guardian. “I never thought there would be no impact whatsoever to SpaceX being here, but I did think government agencies would do more to ensure that things like this wouldn’t happen. I’m afraid of what we’ll find when we go out looking for their nests next spring.”
As the company gets ready to launch the world's biggest rocket – the Super Heavy Booster — from Boca Chica, the future is only looking bleaker. Unfortunately, it seems that anyone with the power to do anything is on Musk's side.