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SpaceX Brownsville Space Port Opposed By Texas Environmentalists 409

MarkWhittington writes "The proposed SpaceX space port in Brownsville, Texas, has run into opposition from an environmental group. Environment Texas is conducting a petition drive to stop the project. According to a news release by the group, the proposed space port, which would include a launch pad and control and spacecraft processing facilities, would be 'almost surrounded' by a park and wildlife refuge. Environment Texas claims the launching of rockets would 'scare the heck' out of every creature in the area and would 'spray noxious chemicals all over the place.' The petition will demand SpaceX build the space port elsewhere." I suspect a lot of people in Brownsville are instead looking forward to the jobs, tourists and excitement that a spaceport would bring.
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SpaceX Brownsville Space Port Opposed By Texas Environmentalists

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  • Re:Move along.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Genda ( 560240 ) <> on Saturday June 02, 2012 @05:32PM (#40196207) Journal

    There's nothing wrong with having a little concern about the local wildlife. That said, SpaceX is providing a variety of exceptional opportunities for Texas, the Country, and the World. The infancy of private space exploration demands special consideration. Bring in the Nature Conservancy, identify any endangered species (if any are present, and move them someplace quieter.) Raise up a volunteer army on conservation folk (from other states ;-) and erect some noise barriers (or create anti-noise if that's a viable alternative. Take reasonable measures to make both sides good neighbor and let the good times roll.

  • by guanxi ( 216397 ) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @05:44PM (#40196259)

    It turns out it affects jobs too.

    "According to a 2011 Texas A&M study, nature tourism generates about $300 million a year in the Rio Grande Valley, created 4,407 full- and part-time jobs and $2.6 million in sales taxes and $7.26 million in hotel taxes. The Rio Grande Valley has been named the number two destination in North America for birdwatching and attracts visitors from all over the world to view almost 500 species of bird." []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 02, 2012 @06:08PM (#40196417)

    Yesteryear's hippie is today's commie. The hippies just wanted the man to leave them alone, but now that you people are the man you just want everyone else to let you control everyone and everything. Hell will be the ultimate totalitarian paradise that leftists of all flavors burn for.

  • Re:Spaceport? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 02, 2012 @06:59PM (#40196723)

    I'm no expert by any means but when I was at Kennedy i toured half a dozen launch pads plus the map had another dozen or so. That doesn't even count the AF owned ones.

    Now all but what 5 of them are inactive and would probably need to be updated but the infrastructure is there... Ready to be updated

  • Re:HIPPIE DIRTBAGS! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Teancum ( 67324 ) <[ten.orezten] [ta] [gninroh_trebor]> on Saturday June 02, 2012 @10:32PM (#40198117) Homepage Journal

    We have pretty good amount of space here on earth too. We can colonise the sea for instance, or build down instead of up. There is lots of space available before we even come up with crazy plans to build O'Neil colonies in space.

    Building into the ocean is much harder than it looks. It would be seriously cheaper to build at L-5 than to build a floating platform in the Gulf of Mexico (where the climate is at least fairly agreeable). If you could seastead in a fairly economical manner, it would be done in a serious way right now.

    Antarctica is often suggested as a place you can go that is more hospitable to life than Mars, and I'd have to agree. The problem with Antarctica is that politically you can't do anything there because of the various treaties and a very real concern that a major colonization effort in Antarctica would result in a major world conflict like World War II over who owns what on that continent. Treating the place as a playground by scientists is one way to diffuse the issue and kick the can down the road for another century or more, where hopefully resources from space will make anything that can be obtained from Antarctica irrelevant.

    Digging down is just plain stupid. Again, it would be done much more than it is if it was so easy. Most of the time people are digging up into the sky, which is something that has been happening for a couple of centuries and the last century in particular. While the very tall skyscrapers have all of the headlines, there are a great many smaller buildings that still go over a dozen stories and include both residential, commercial, and industrial facilities. Digging up into the sky does cost money and is only done in urban centers where it makes sense.

    I might agree that an archology [] could be built that could house up to a million people in a relatively small footprint of land and be able to be self-sufficient. These do require a substantial supply of raw materials and in order to get built require the urban services of a large metro area to at least get started until self-sufficiency is attained. For myself though, I think it will take building stuff like an O'Neill colony and learning how to manage resources effectively in space to be able to build proper archologies on the Earth. Furthermore, it will be from space where the raw materials to build stuff like that will come from rather than from digging stuff out of the ground here on the Earth.

    Space is huge. So mingbogglingly huge that you can't possibly imagine just how much room you have to expand in space. The future of humanity is up there, not on this rock... which can be turned into an ecological reserve in due time. The only other end game if we stay here on the Earth is to do some sort of Malthusian genocide as the current growth of mankind can't survive on limited resources. In space there are more galaxies than people, and more stars in this galaxy than people. It will also take a long, long time before it can even be remotely considered to be crowded in this Solar System alone.

  • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <[ten.orezten] [ta] [gninroh_trebor]> on Saturday June 02, 2012 @11:06PM (#40198299) Homepage Journal

    There are alternatives. There is a spot near Miami that is competing against Brownsville, as is a spot in Puerto Rico and the Big Island in Hawaii. Hawaii has been mostly ruled out (the locals don't want SpaceX there) but the other spots are open... and the folks in Florida just have to go up the coast a little bit to see how much money spaceflight can bring to a community. The point still remains that there aren't really that many suitable locations where this kind of thing can happen and to suggest otherwise is ignoring physics and geography.

    You need a location that has a whole lot of water to the east and is as close to the equator as possible. That does exist in China, a few islands in the Pacific Ocean, South America (mainly Brazil but French Guiana works just fine for the ESA), and the above named locations. This spot in Brownsville is pretty unique in the world to be in a 1st world country and at a nearly ideal latitude with a whole lot of water to the east. The purpose of water to the east is because you get an extra push from the rotation of the Earth (that is the physics part) when you launch to the east. The geography part is important because you don't want pieces of the rocket landing on people either by accident (when a rocket blows up) or even semi-accidentally (when the 1st stage goes down... it has to go somewhere and hopefully not on somebody's living room). The part of Mexico a bit further south from Brownsville could also work.... but then again do you want to export even more jobs to Mexico?

    What is interesting here, as pointed out by khallow and others, is that by building a major space port at this location and perhaps even expanding that spaceport slightly for other would-be launch operators, it will do far more to protect the environment and preserve the current wildlife in the area than almost any other kind of activity which could be done at the site. If anything, fewer roads will be built, fewer visitors damaging wildlife habitat, and less of an overall environmental impact on the area in general will happen than if the area was officially recognized as a national park or formal wildlife refuge and receive an official wilderness designation.

    This isn't a risk to the environment, it is a huge blessing to it. Because it will be bringing in literally millions of dollars into the local economy it will also be huge to the tax base of the area providing schools, parks, and all of the social services that you could hope for and more... and a strong reason not to use the area near the space port for any other activity. If there is pollution in the wildlife area, the tax dollars will be there to treat raw sewage and deal with the other problems to clean the area up. Law enforcement will be active in getting people out of the area during a launch (and often even between launches) and hunting in the area simply won't happen because it will simply be dangerous to do that kind of activity. Simply put, capitalism will play its hand and force the area to become a wildlife area by the nature of the activity. This isn't like building an an oil refinery at this location, as its status as essentially a wilderness is the reason they want the site. The areas around this launch site will even likely be turned more into a wilderness as well.

  • Re:Oh dear! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bazorg ( 911295 ) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @04:42AM (#40199617) Homepage

    Turns out it was one of the best things that could have happened down there.

    How so? (asking because I've never been there)

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry