in Houston, Texas
Environmental group opposes proposed SpaceX complex in South Texas, says nearby wildlife would be disturbed
Monday, Jun 04, 2012, 11:41AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

Speaking not only for the animals of Boca Chica State Park but for all those creatures silenced for 50 years by the roar of rocket engines at the Johnson Space Center and Cape Canaveral, Environment Texas is asking SpaceX to build its new launch pad someplace else.

While the country marvelled last week at the first successful private cargo mission to the International Space Station, the Austin-based environmental group launched its own mission: a petition drive to encourage SpaceX not to build its new complex next to the park in southern Cameron County, Texas Tribune is reports.

The pioneering company wants to build a hangar, a launch pad, a full workshop, warehouse and a fuel storage area on a 50-acre site to make 12 commercial, satellite and experimental payload launches over the Gulf.

The Texas site is part of an aggressive expansion planned by the company formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp., started by Elon Musk, the co-creator of PayPal.

Space scientists are hailing what they hope will be a new era in space research.

Human beings living in the area of the proposed launch site seem pretty excited about a private space program nearby, Bob Lancaster, the president of Texas Space Alliance, told the Tribune.

Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger told the Tribune he is all about this space thing in theory, just not in practice if it means upsetting the Boca Chica wildlife.

"Launching big, loud, smelly rockets from the middle of a wildlife refuge will scare the heck out of every creature within miles and sprays noxious chemicals all over the place,” Metzger said. “It’s a terrible idea, and SpaceX needs to find another place for their spaceport.

Ditto on those big, loud, smelly rockets and their impact on the endangered species, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said. One can assume the unendangered species would find them irksome, too.

Outgoing U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has frequently criticized private space ventures for cutting into the authority of a National Aeronautics and Space Administration that has brought billions of dollars and prestige to the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

However, NASA, in spite of the silent but unceasing agony of nature, last year awarded $75 million to SpaceX to further its commercial space work.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Monday, 06/04/2012 - 10:08PM

This is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, right? I consider myself to be an environmentalist, but this piece is hilarious. Are you familiar with the location of the Kennedy Space Center? It happens to be surrounded by Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore. Have you ever visited those places? I have. They are extraordinary natural environments, filled with numerous species, many of them endangered. They co-exist very well with the occasional two minutes of noise from a rocket launch. And no, the rockets aren't smelly, either. SpaceX rockets run on liquid oxygen and rock-grade kerosine, which puts out less pollution than the cars driving around the area every day. If you want to make criticisms, you'd best do your homework first. This piece of ignorant fear mongering just makes you look foolish and ridiculous.

Mark Lisheron
Tuesday, 06/05/2012 - 08:13AM

No need to scold, TS. It was, indeed, tongue-in-cheek. I'm aware of the ecosystems around Johnson and Cape Canaveral. I'd be astonished if Environment Texas wasn't well aware of them, too. Tired, hackneyed and Luddite begs for a little parody.

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