BOCA CHICA BEACH, Texas (Boundary Report) – A fiery explosion followed by a sonic boom rattled the southern Texas Gulf Coast during a failed test just before 2 p.m. at SpaceX’s rocket testing channel near Boca Chica Beach, Texas.
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The blast was like a wave that shot up into the sky and took a few seconds to reach onlookers watching from Highway 4, about half a mile away. The blast was so high that cars shook and car alarms were released before construction workers at a SpaceX hangar ran out to a chain link fence to see what had happened.
Police had closed the highway for traffic but the Border Report had just come through the checkpoint 20 miles away on the way to filming a story pending Saturday’s planned manned launch by SpaceX of a crew – the first planned launch of a US-made manned craft land of over a decade.
The flashing emergency lights from the emergency crews could be seen immediately after the blast. Thick white and black smoke was thrown from the spot and it seemed like some kind of liquid was doused on the flame, although not confirmed.
The fire burned for about 40 minutes after the blast, which changed the movement of gulls and local birds that seemed to jump in the air and frightened by the sight and sound.
Then just before noon. 15 more black smoke could be seen as well as more fire in the area.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk 2011 was appealed to South Texas by community leaders who came up with a $ 30 million incentive package for the company to build the first commercial rocket launch pad in the country in this impoverished South Texas border region.
The SpaceX test facility is located on five acres donated to the company, which is based in Hawthorne, California, former Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez told Border Report on Friday.
Martinez and others expressed enthusiasm for the financial gain they believe this company will give to the region.
“We might be geographically located in a perfect location because you are there at Boca Chica and you are close to the equator, which means it is the way to go to Mars. And this hopefully tomorrow will prove to be as successful as I think it can and will be safe for everyone, “said Martinez, who was mayor until 2019.
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Martinez said the city of Brownsville raised $ 5 million, the state of Texas put in $ 15 million, 5 acres of land was donated from the nearby port, and the University of Texas Rio-Grande Valley raised $ 10 million to start a STARGATE program, which stands for Spacecraft Tracking and Astronomical Research. This facility is located about a mile from the launch pad.
“It was a societal effect of everyone posting this and that is the beauty of the business because evrybody is now invested in this,” Martinez said.
Gilberto Salinas, who was the CEO of Brownsville Economic Development Corporation when they tried to get SpaceX here, told the Border Report on Friday that the company created 500 jobs for the region and paid back the $ 5 million to the City of Brownsville in less than four years . He said that the economic outlook of the plant is as unlimited as the stars in the sky.
US Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, vice chairman of the House Appropriations Border Security Subcommittee, said he adds language to the 2019 and 2020 budget bills that exclude this South Texas SpaceX site from border wall construction. Originally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans placed the boundary wall right through this launch site.
U.S. Rope. Filemon Vela, D-Texas, representing the Brownsville area, told the Border Report on Friday: “America’s innovation and capabilities are unlimited and exemplified by NASA and SpaceX’s Demo-2 missions. South Texas is perfectly positioned, as the gateway to space, to grow more historical events like this and the economic opportunities that come with it. “
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