General, Research, Technology

The roar of engines and curfew: how SpaceX forced Texas residents to sell their homes

Every time after a successful test of a new rocket(or a failed launch, this also happens) SpaceX, we often see reports that this happened at the company’s new cosmodrome under construction in Boca Chica, Texas. What kind of place is it? This is a small village with several dozen inhabitants, located in a picturesque place on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, near the Mexican border. Back in 2014, Elon Musk and the Texas governor laid the foundation for a new spaceport, and the locals thought it would make their small town famous around the world. And this happened, because many of us would not have known about the existence of this village, if not for the SpaceX project. However, over several years, the attitude of residents to this building has changed dramatically: now they want Elon Musk to leave them alone.

To watch SpaceX launches, residents of Boca Chica can go out to their yard

It all began as in a fairy tale, says onefrom Boca Chica residents to Esquire magazine. - Many journalists and SpaceX fans all talked, took pictures, exchanged experiences, even Musk himself often looked at the construction site. The town has become a real "space center" of the United States.

Before this, the company Ilona Mask bought one ofhouses in the village for 37 thousand dollars, without running water and other vital communications, in disrepair and with bars on the windows. At first, the residents were a little confused by this fact: why did the billionaire need this house at all? So that you understand - in Boca Chica there is one single street on which the houses of all residents stand. But this fact was somehow overlooked in the general information flow. And then they were no longer up to him.

Cosmodrome SpaceX

After the construction of the spaceport and before the firstSpaceX announced with the presentation of the Starship that space projects are a great danger and "it’s very difficult to minimize damage from launches." Along with this, offers were made to all Boka Chik residents to buy their homes, and not at the market price, but at three, or even five times more expensive. Nobody agreed to this proposal: people lived in the village for several generations, and indeed, until the advent of the SpaceX cosmodrome, the town was a piece of paradise on Earth.

What did it result in? The life of the inhabitants of Boca Chica has transformed from paradise to hell. Yes, they were at the very center of events and could watch the SpaceX launches at the spaceport from the closest possible distance. However, for security reasons, the company Ilona Mask began to block the main road leading to the village (and it is generally alone there). In addition, at the time of the launch, residents were obliged not to leave their homes. And this is not 15 minutes or even 2 hours - SpaceX designated a 15-hour window during which no one could go out. If one of the residents, for example, went to relatives in another city and decided to return at that time, he would have stayed overnight on the street. Nobody needs scandals like "a civilian suffered because of the launch of a new rocket. Elon Mask."

Boca Chica satellite image. So that residents can get to their home (above), they need to drive past the SpaceX site

Despite all this, demand for real estate inBoca Chica has grown several times, mainly due to fans and fans of SpaceX. One of them, as residents say, even broke into the spaceport site and managed to take a selfie with a rocket, after which charges were brought against him. Some residents began renting their homes on Airbnb, as they could no longer be in this place. And for SpaceX fans, it’s only for the joy of watching the launches of their favorite company right from their courtyard. However, most residents do not want to leave: people of age who want to grow old in their own home live mainly in Boca Chica.

SpaceX fans attend Starship Mk1 presentation in Boca Chica

Where does SpaceX launch rockets?

Why did Elon Musk choose this place at all? In fact, the answer to this question is still unclear. The spaceport was built literally on the side of a public highway, not far from residential buildings. The same Jeff Bezos, the head of Amazon, when he became interested in space technology and created Blue Origin, bought hundreds of hectares of land in the wilderness of Texas, where there is not a single city or village nearby. Richard Branson has hosted his private space company Virgin Galactic in Spaceport America, a facility also located far from residential buildings in New Mexico. You can read more about it in our channel in Yandex.Zen.

This is what the Blue Origin base looks like - not a soul around

In addition, Boca Chica can not be called ideala place for space launches. Strong hurricanes rage here periodically, and all commercial companies that were interested in the area quickly left it. Many buildings after one hurricane were washed away into the sea. And SpaceX itself already felt all the features of the local climate: at the beginning of last year, the Starship prototype suffered severe damage after it fell to the ground due to strong winds. The speed of gusts of wind in the area of ​​the rocket as a result of the storm amounted to 80 kilometers per hour. As a result, part of the protective mechanisms that keep the rocket from falling did not survive. The upper part of the Starship with a fairing collapsed on its side and was damaged. Musk later added that the fuel tanks of the prototype were not affected.

This is what Starship looked like after a strong hurricane in Boca Chica.

But he’s not the place of deployment of his spaceportchanged, and still in Boca Chica are actively engaged in the development and testing of Starship. Apparently, SpaceX received this land under very favorable conditions (perhaps it didn’t pay for it at all, given the considerable role of the governor of Texas in this project).

One can imagine the noise in the village when Elon Musk decides to test the Raptor engines - one of these tests just ended recently.

After the accident, activity at the construction sitebecame even more turbulent, it was clear that the company was trying to catch up. Residents tried to protect themselves from noise with anti-hiding shutters, but this did not help either. In the end, some nevertheless surrendered and made a deal with SpaceX, selling their home much more than the market price. Most likely, this was achieved in the company of Elon Mask.

This piece of land was very important to us, - saidone of the residents. “The air and views are amazing. There is no price for leaving a beachfront villa with great views. But living here has become simply impossible.

Some residents also noticed that after the SpaceX tests, dozens of dead turtles appear on the shore, and dead fish swim in the water.

SpaceX later reported 12 launches per year withBoca Chica. Each month, one of the company's missiles - Falcon 9, or Falcon Heavy, the most powerful of the arsenal - must fly into the sky and reach the International Space Station, or can fly even further. But the villagers do not seem to want to participate in this anymore.