LAST TOWN BEFORE MARS: SpaceX’s most vocal holdouts in South Texas are selling their homes to Elon Musk’s rocket company to make way for a Mars spaceport

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SpaceX is building a Starship rocket-development site and future Mars spaceport in Boca Chica, a remote beach area at the southern tip of Texas.
SpaceX established its launch site amid a hamlet of about three-dozen homes owned by retiree-age residents.
Following a marathon of construction and testing, SpaceX in late 2019 presented every homeowner with a buyout offer.
While many residents initially rejected the deal, SpaceX has managed to persuade more than half of the homeowners to sell. However, several who signed a deal told Business Insider they felt forced to do so under the circumstances.
SpaceX did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
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This story is the first in a Business Insider series about SpaceX in South Texas called “Last Town Before Mars.”

The pathway to Mars is a Grand Canyon, or even a Valles Marineris, of engineering hurdles.

But in tech-entrepreneur Elon Musk’s quest to settle the red planet with a million people, neither he nor SpaceX, the rocket company he founded, likely anticipated a very earthbound and pernicious human challenge: a village of retiree-age homeowners.

For SpaceX to establish permanent cities on Mars, as Musk hopes to do, off-world colonists will need advanced life-support systems, habitats able to block out worrisome radiation, and other crucial technologies that don’t yet exist. Martians will also require a powerful, reliable, affordable, and as-yet hypothetical rocket ship to get supplies and themselves to and from the planet.

Creating an interplanetary human-transport system is the most urgent piece of the Martian puzzle to solve, according to Musk, because it would spur experts beyond SpaceX’s walls to solve the other core challenges of getting to, and surviving, on Mars.

SpaceX, of course, is well on its way toward developing such a rocket system, and it’s called Starship.

The company has built, tested, and begun to mass-manufacture Starship’s car-sized rocket engines, called Raptors; used three of them to successfully launch, hover, and land a stubby steel prototype called Starhopper; and now hopes to fly a 16-story rocket ship nearly 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) into the South Texas sky, according to an experimental license application submitted by SpaceX to federal regulators this week.

The finished 39-story launch system is designed to include a 22-story rocket booster, called Super Heavy, and be fully reusable, unlike any rocket today. Work toward that dream is progressing rapidly in a region of Cameron County that locals call Boca Chica.

Yet standing in the company’s way is a hamlet called Boca Chica Village and its 30 or so homes.

The allure and exasperation of Boca Chica

Boca Chica is a remote, bucolic, and beachy strip of land at the southern tip of Texas. SpaceX began seriously considering the region for a commercial launch site in 2011, according to former Cameron County officials interviewed by Business Insider.

The site would be private, allowing SpaceX to move faster and with far less hassle than at its government-leased launch sites in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Vandenberg Air Force …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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