(ORDO NEWS) — Starbase, the proving ground and launch pad for SpaceX ‘s massive starship near Brownsville, South Texas, is attracting many space exploration enthusiasts who want to see a private space company pave the way for humanity’s future. But to their dismay, according to National Geographic , things may soon change.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has hinted that his space company could eventually move all of its operations to Florida’s “Space Coast.”
“Here in Brownsville and all over the valley, everyone expected this to be the Gateway to Mars,” said Louis Baldera, a local resident and author of the LabPadre YouTube channel , which has more than 200,000 subscribers, which covers SpaceX at Starbase.
As for launching something directly to the Moon or Mars, this will most likely never happen here. I think it will upset some people.”
Anonymous SpaceX employees working at the Starbase facility told Dallas Express News in an interview that they don’t believe Starbase will be a “Gateway” either.
This is largely due to the fact that SpaceX and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have been embroiled in a lengthy battle over permission for orbital test flights for Starship.
At the same time, the FAA persistently referred to “environmental problems” and repeatedly postponed its decision.
“I guess our worst-case scenario is that we delay [the launch] by six to eight months to build a launch tower at Cape [Canaveral] and launch from there,” Musk said at a February press conference when his asked what would happen to SpaceX if the FAA needed a more extensive environmental review.
And yet, last month, the FAA issued a permit for the first orbital test flight on the condition that SpaceX complies with about 75 environmental requirements.
If operations move to Florida, then Brownsville residents will not like it, especially given the possible consequences for the local economy, which such a decision could lead to. After all, SpaceX is the biggest employer in the city.
“I didn’t know about any of these plans ahead of time,” Brownsville’s city commissioner, Jessica Tetro, told National Geographic.
“We were struck by the timing and the fact that they [SpaceX] might have to start moving everything to Florida.”
Last December, SpaceX began building a Starship launch tower in Florida, and added a second segment to it in June. This clearly indicates that the company is indeed considering pulling out of South Texas.
Of course, this does not mean that Starbase will cease to function completely. The facility will most likely be used for some less global research and development, which Musk talked about at the February conference. However, this will have a very negative economic impact on the region.
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