SpaceX Launches Are Causing ‘Falling Debris’ and 'Unplanned Fires' in Boca Chica

'I've never seen anything like this.'
Brad Bergan
SpaceX's Starship, fully stacked.Elon Musk / Twitter

Turns out, launching rockets can seriously change the neighborhood.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) convened a Monday hearing for public citizens to voice their opinions on SpaceX's forthcoming Starship flights, which will resume at the company's Boca Chica, Texas facility.

And some of them had sharp comments about Elon Musk's aerospace firm, according to initial reports from CNET and Ars Technica, who attended the hearing.

Some public voices are concerned about SpaceX's rocket noise

The hearing lasted more than three hours, and offered the public a chance three minutes each to voice their concerns or support for the flights as part of the FAA's environmental review of Musk's facility. Much of the public feedback expressed was positive, but some found SpaceX's activities objectionable. One of these detracting speakers was Sharon Wilcox, a representative in Texas for a conservation nonprofit, called Defenders of Wildlife. During her minutes, she said the group was "deeply concerned about the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts" of the oft-explosive launches, including "unplanned fires, debris fall, and debris removal," according to comments reported by CNET.

Another local who spoke at the hearing named Sharon Almaguer, who lives only a few miles from the forthcoming SpaceX launch site, argued that her concerns about noise from the rockets were relevant. "This is a project that is profoundly going to change our area," said Almaguer, in the Ars Technica report. "Please do your job and stop it." These and other statements raised during the hearing were critical of SpaceX, but most weren't, especially the ones from people who didn't even live in Texas. "Essentially, it's humanity living off the planet, and it's very important for us to do that," said one person.

Anyone can speak at the FAA's SpaceX hearing on Wednesday

"Some piping plovers may have to move but there are always trade-offs," said another speaker named Dan Elton, in one of the more ambiguous comments in support of SpaceX. City Commissioner Jessica Tetreau of a nearby town called Brownsville offered the night's final words from the public on SpaceX's facilities, praising the effects of Elon Musk's space firm on her community. "I don't just ask you, I beg you to give them that permit," she said in reference to the FAA's pending permits for the aerospace company's forthcoming launches, according to CNET

Another public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, and it's the final one, taking place at 6:00 PM EDT, as the time draws near for the FAA to complete its environmental assessment of SpaceX's Texas aerospace facilities. The hearings and the FAA's further assessment are among the final obstacles Musk's firm faces before it can receive the "all-clear" to execute launch operations within its Boca Chica site. When the FAA is finished with it, we might see SpaceX move forward with almost no environmental protections in place. But, on the other hand, the agency also has the power to completely ban Musk's company from launching at the site. Anyone interested in registering to attend may do so, and offer a comment online, or simply submit their take via email. Time will tell what the FAA decides to do, but rarely do we hear the public's voice so directly on the subject of private aerospace ventures.

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