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SpaceX is in hot water after receiving a warning from a district attorney in Texas. The warning states that the technology giant has been violating several state laws as it employed unlicensed security guards to ward people off on public roads and public beaches for a significant amount of time.
The activity being discussed by Texas state authorities revolves around SpaceX’s Starship worksite in the remote beach town of Boca Chica, South of Texas. The site is SpaceX’s primary site for building and testing Starship: a giant spacecraft envisioned to transport humans to the moon and to Mars. While Starship is seen as a significant stride in the history of space exploration, the project is said to be causing inconvenience to nearby residents, causing many to gather collectively and file a complaint to the local government.
The letter of complaint was first reported by KRGV, a local television station in Texas. As disclosed by Luis Saenz, Cameron County district attorney, some of his staff members were allegedly “approached, stopped, and detained” after making an attempt to access a public road near SpaceX’s launching facilities to carry out an investigation. The said incident happened on June 9. Furthermore, the detainees shared that the company security guard that denied them access was proven to be unlicensed by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
In a letter addressed to Shyamal Patel, SpaceX’s head of Starship operations, Luis Saenz said, “While SpaceX is a valued member of our community, this does not authorize SpaceX, its employees, staff, agents, and/or contractors to disregard Texas Law. Also, be advised, if this conduct were to happen again, not only could the individual SpaceX employee/contractor/agent be subject to arrest and prosecution, but as a Texas Business Entity…SpaceX could be prosecuted as well.”
“This conduct is unacceptable,” Luis Saenz further stated in the letter, reflecting the concerns and experiences of locals on SpaceX’s “overzealous security guard” incidents.
The recent petition is not the first SpaceX received from local law enforcers and residents near Boca Chica. SpaceX was also formerly pinpointed by environmental activists for its explosive rocket testing mishaps and littering local beaches with shrapnel and other junk.
Additionally, the complaints surfacing from Texas also caused precious issues against the company to resurface. The residents of Boca Chica have also previously raised concerns about how SpaceX’s around-the-clock construction work near beaches may disturb local nocturnal species.
Just this week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) documents also gained attention, stating that SpaceX has ignored multiple warnings from the federal agency before for violating launch license in the test flight of a Starship prototype. In another letter to SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell, the FAA’s space division chief Wayne Monteith said in an interview with The Verge, “These actions show a concerning lack of operational control and process discipline that is inconsistent with a strong safety culture.”
The ongoing environmental review could also delay SpaceX’s Starship’s first orbital flight to Mars, scheduled to happen in July.