SpaceX Is Now Lighting Public Parks On Fire With Its Launches

The disastrous SpaceX launch sent flaming debris into a state park.

By Chad Langen | Updated

SpaceX launch rocket fuel

SpaceX’s Starship is one of the most ambitious space projects in modern history. The rocket is designed to be fully reusable and capable of carrying humans and cargo to destinations beyond Earth, including the Moon, Mars, and beyond. However, according to Futurism, a recent attempted launch resulted in an explosion that caused significant damage to the launchpad and surrounding areas.

In a statement given to Bloomberg by the Texas division of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the April 20 launch by SpaceX resulted in a fire that burned approximately 3.5 acres of land, including areas belonging to the nearby Boca Chica State Park. The agency revealed that the fire was caused by chunks of concrete thrown by the explosion. Fortunately, first responders were eventually able to put out the flames.

Increasing evidence suggests that SpaceX hurriedly conducted the test launch, overlooking essential stages of the process. Notably, experts have emphasized that the company, which was established by entrepreneur and billionaire Elon Musk, initiated the rocket launch without a flame diverter or trench to redirect the exhaust from the rocket. Musk confirmed that the company initiated constructing a large, water-cooled plate of steel to place underneath the launch mount, but it was not available in time.

Following the violent destruction of the launch site, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) temporarily grounded the SpaceX rocket and launched an investigation into the incident. The explosion caused a cloud of dust and debris to sweep through Port Isabel, covering everything in a thick layer of dust, causing buildings to shake and windows to shatter. The fallout also affected the beaches of Boca Chica, potentially endangering the protected habitats of animals.

On May 1, environmental and cultural heritage organizations filed a lawsuit against the FAA, alleging that the agency did not conduct an adequate environmental assessment of SpaceX’s Starship program. According to the lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, American Bird Conservancy, Surfrider Foundation, Save RGV, and the Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas, the SpaceX facility’s region in Boca Chica constitutes a biologically diverse and vital habitat for numerous species. The lawsuit argues that the FAA should have conducted an environmental impact statement for the Starship program but instead chose to undertake a less rigorous and expedient environmental assessment.

Before the lawsuit was filed, during a Twitter Spaces Starship update over the weekend, Elon Musk stated, per CNBC reporter Michael Sheetz, that there hasn’t been any notable environmental damage from what SpaceX can see. He went on to say that he anticipates Starship could be ready to fly again in as soon as six to eight weeks.

While SpaceX was undoubtedly pleased that the rocket successfully lifted off before the explosion, it is evident that the company needs to conduct more research before trying another launch. However, this assumes that it can make another launch attempt, as the company’s future plans will depend on how regulators respond to the incident. We’ll have to wait and see how things play out.