Now, a new report has revealed that the launch went even worse than previously thought. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists were left in disbelief over the environmental damage the launch caused.
What damage did SpaceX cause?
According to the report, which made use of information obtained by Bloomberg via a Freedom of Information Act request, the SpaceX Starship launch burned four acres of a nearby Texas state park. At the very least, a group of blue land crabs and seven bobwhite quail eggs were “incinerated.”
The entire explosion “left a 385-acre debris field that flung concrete chunks as far as 2,680 feet from the launchpad and sparked a 3.5-acre fire.”
To make matters worse, biologists were not able to fully take stock of the damage as SpaceX officials did not allow them into the site until 48 hours after the launch. Bloomberg wrote that “behind the scenes, officials at times questioned whether they were blocked from accessing the site.”
How did this happen?
Much of the damage was caused by an intentional decision made by SpaceX that was reported on at the time. The company declined to put basic safety measures, such as a flame diverter, trench, and water deluge system, in place to absorb the force of the blast.
This resulted in a massive cloud of debris that left a town six miles away covered in sand and soil.
It is not clear why SpaceX didn’t think it needed these basic safety measures and why the Federal Aviation Administration allowed the launch to go forward without them.
What is being done to stop SpaceX from causing further destruction?
The FAA is now, belatedly, investigating the launch and has grounded future launches from SpaceX until the investigation is complete.
SpaceX is, in a way, its own worst enemy — the lack of safety precautions resulted in the launch pad being completely obliterated, and the rocket ship itself being destroyed means that it’s going to be a while before the company incinerates any more wildlife.
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