SpaceX’s Starship kicks up a cloud of dust, leaving Texans in disarray
The most powerful rocket ever launched from a launch pad in Boca Chica, Texas, shook the ground Thursday, sending billowing clouds of dust and debris that shook houses and rained brown grime mile.
In Port Isabel, about 6 miles northwest, residents were shocked when at least one window was shattered.
“It was really scary,” said Sharon Almaguer, who was at home with her 80-year-old mother at the time of the launch. During previous launches, Ms Almaguer said she experienced some shaking inside the brick building, but “it’s a whole different level.”
Meanwhile, SpaceX’s Starship exploded just minutes after liftoff before reaching orbit.Near the launch site, residents of Port Isabel are known for their towering lighthouse Less than 10 miles from the Mexican border, was left to deal with the mess.
Valerie Bates, a spokeswoman for Port Isabel, said in an interview that almost all of the city “ended up being covered in a pretty thick layer of grainy sand that just fell on everything.” .
Pictures posted on social media show Resident’s car Covered in brown debris.
A window in the gym was shattered, said the gym’s owner, Luis Alanis. Mr Alanis, who was home at the time of the launch, said he felt “a rumbling, sort of like a small earthquake”. He estimated that it would cost about $300 to repair the windows.
closer to the launch site, large pieces Was recorded flying through the air and crashing into a driverless car.
Founder by Louis Balderas lab godfatherThe company that filmed the SpaceX launch said that while it was common to see some debris, smoke and dust, the impact of Thursday’s liftoff was like nothing he had ever seen.
“There were concrete blocks the size of bowling balls flying out of the launch pad area,” Mr Balderas said. He added that the explosion created a crater that he estimated was about 25 feet deep.
in the statement FacebookThe city of Port Isabel said Cameron County Emergency Management had identified the dust “from sand and dirt near the SpaceX launch site that was lifted into the air by the liftoff.”
On Thursday, Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. ordered closure Boca Chica Beach and a section of State Highway 4 “to protect public health and safety during unusual cleanup efforts” before 2 p.m. Friday.
Port Isabel spokeswoman Ms Bates said there was no “immediate concern for people’s health” based on current information.
Eric Roesch, an environmental compliance and risk assessment expert who has been tracking SpaceX rocket launches, said in an interview that he and others have long Warning about environmental risks to the surrounding area. But he added that without a chemical analysis of the dust and debris, it was difficult to say whether they were harmful to human health.
But, Mr. Roesch said, “the presence of this dust kind of suggests to me that impact modeling is inadequate because that’s not really being disclosed as a possible impact.”
In June, an environmental review by the Federal Aviation Administration concluded that SpaceX’s orbital launch plans would have “no significant impact” on the Gulf Coast region.
Mr. Roesch who runs the Environmental Policy Blog ESG hound, said he believed the dust and debris came mainly from a giant crater formed during the rocket’s liftoff.Usually, the main launch sites are designed with grooves or water system That helps divert the rocket’s flames away from the ground and softens the impact, he said.
“They didn’t do that,” he said. “It looks like they just went ahead and launched this thing.”
SpaceX’s “Anomaly Response Plan” has been activated, the FAA said in a statement Friday.
In the outlined plan, SpaceX is responsible for assessing the situation and notifying the appropriate agencies.
If the incident creates debris in the area where the rocket took off, the plan says the company will need to obtain an emergency special use permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and may restrict access to the area.
The FAA said SpaceX needs to ensure that “any ground safety and flight hazards during licensed activities do not pose an unacceptable risk to the public.”
SpaceX did not respond to questions about the dust and debris Thursday night.
Ms. Almaguer, a Port Isabel resident, said that while Elon Musk’s adventures brought jobs to economically struggling areas, the brown silt covering her city was a reminder of environmental concerns and a sign that things were getting out of hand.
“The locals here are just being sacrificed,” she said.
“He just wanted to get this out of the way,” Ms. Almag said of Mr. Musk. “Everyone else deserves to die.”
McKenna Oxendon Contribution report.