Latest SpaceX launch creates taxpayer, environmental concerns

By: Rudy Mireles

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Another SpaceX launch ended in flames early Tuesday morning as Starship SN11 exploded upon impact through the dense fog at Boca Chica.

Following that explosion, Elon Musk announced his intent to donate $30 million to the area – but concerns are being raised about future test flights.

In 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission directed three LNG companies in the area to conduct a safety analysis on the SpaceX launch site. The analysis found that the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles – which the launch site had been built for – posed no safety concerns.

Those rockets never took flight from the Valley, and a local engineer said the larger starships pose greater dangers to the area.

"We are promoting a new launch analysis for this rocket which is... at least 10 times bigger, heavier, more powerful than a Falcon," Bill Berg said. “These are going to be $6 billion companies going in, and what if they're damaged? Then what happens? Who pays the insurance?"

In a flurry of tweets following the launch, Musk encouraged people to move to the area for work followed by his announcement of the $30 million donation to Cameron County schools and the city of Brownsville. 

The donation occurred weeks after Brownsville commissioners voted to allocate more than $1 million toward funding space related activities, raising skepticism from a Brownsville resident.

"A lot of us felt it's not right for us to be involved in that as a city when there's so many other way that we could invest this money in our community,” Xandra Trevino said. “We really need to make sure that the people that live here - people who have already lived in this area - are being taken care of. And that their concerns about their way of life, about the environment are being listened to."

Trevino and other residents are planning to speak up at an upcoming Brownsville city commission meeting set for Wednesday, April 6. 


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