BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Boca Chica is the lead story in The New York Times today, with a feature on how local residents are coping with the arrival of SpaceX.

“For years, those in a rural Texas village cherished living among nature and wildlife. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has brought new fears and the promise of an economic boost to one of America’s poorest corners,” reads the strapline for a story whose headline for the online edition is: A Serene Shore Resort, Except for the SpaceX ‘Ball of Fire.’

The headline for the print edition is: A Texas Retreat’s Tranquillity Is Rattled by a SpaceX ‘Ball of Fire’. It appears in print on May 25, 2021, Section A, Page 1 of the New York edition.

The writers are Edgar Sandoval and Richard Webner. 

Local residents Nancy and Jim Crawford, and Rosemary and Jim Workman are interviewed bye the reporters. They talk of their lives being disrupted by the noise of rocket engines being tested.

Jim Chapman, president of Friends of the Wildlife Corridor, a nonprofit group with a mission to protect the native habitats of the Rio Grande Valley, speaks out against SpaceX.

While the Federal Aviation Administration has given SpaceX environmental clearance for the tests, the story states, environmentalists worry that recent explosions could have a lasting effect on the ecologically rich area, home to a number of endangered species, like ocelots and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.

“When you’re testing brand-new technology and brand-new rockets, brand-new engines, stuff like that happens,” Chapman told NYT. “Well, our feeling is, that shouldn’t be happening here.”

Speaking in support are Eddie Treviño, Jr., the Cameron County judge, and Brownsville City Commissioner Rose Gowan. “One of the very important things for me to support, and us to support, is growing the wealth,” Ms. Gowen said.

When the company announced plans to move to the area in 2014, it promised to create about 500 jobs, Treviño told NYT. But as of late last year, he said, the actual figure was more than triple that, with more than 1,600 jobs in construction, clerical and other fields, most of them given to local residents, he said.

The benefits to the Brownsville area, where according to the U.S. Census Bureau at least 30 percent of the population lives in poverty, will eventually outweigh whatever tension and disruptions the company has brought, Treviño told NYT.

“We have to balance the good with the bad,” he said.

Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez provided NYT with a written quote for the Sandoval/Webner story.

“We look forward to a discussion about how this could help our community prosper as we take a front seat to the next chapter of space exploration and innovation,” Mendez said, in reference to a commitment by SpaceX founder Elon Musk to donate $30 million for city revitalization projects and schools. 

Others quoted in the story as being opposed to SpaceX being at Boca Chica are Elias Cantu, an activist with the League of United Latin American Citizens, and Xandra Treviño, a member of Fuera SpaceX.

Editor’s Note: Click here to read the Sandoval/Webner story in The New York Times.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows a rough visualization of the size of Starhopper, Starship, and Super Heavy, at SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch site. (Visualization: Austin Barnard/Teslarati)


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