This one's for the birds.
It seems like SpaceX's huge Starship test may have literally been for the birds.
During the momentous live fire that saw 31 of Starship's 33 engines blast at once in what may well be the most powerful rocket ignition ever, a less-than-ideal outcome was seen on video stills: a plume of birds fanning (and falling) out near the Super Heavy booster's fiery trenches.
What's more: as some, er, birdwatchers note, at least some of those poor little guys didn't seem to make it.
Umm. That was awesome! But...that was a lot of birds. A lot. Can we get a wellness check someone? pic.twitter.com/WS26nsKsp2
— Abhi Tripathi (@SpaceAbhi) February 9, 2023
As multiple Tweeters have noted, SpaceX's "Starbase" campus in Boca Chica, Texas is located next to a wildlife refuge that's home to a number of endangered species of birds, and in its march towards Mars, the Elon Musk-owned company may be, as conservationists argue, doing harm to wildlife in the process.
Not only is the site located on public lands — it's also been the subject of Federal Aviation Administration scrutiny after the agency last summer told SpaceX in an environmental impact assessment that it had to make significant tweaks to its Starbase expansion plans to comply with legal regulations.
Officially, SpaceX is still waiting for FAA approval before Starship can launch in full, and as of now, it's unclear whether this otherwise-successful Super Heavy booster test's unfortunate side effect will result in further postponement of that approval.
In a statement provided to Futurism, an FAA representative said that the Boca Chica Starbase is "a SpaceX exclusive use site and is not licensed" by the agency.
"The engine test that occurred yesterday was not a FAA-licensed activity," the spokesperson continued.
Futurism also reached out to SpaceX for comment. Given that Musk is neither the type to ask for forgiveness nor permission, there's little chance that such a trifle as disrupting local wildlife will stall SpaceX any further than is legally required — and in the long run, that attitude could prove harmful to humanity and the planet that he so wants to leave behind.
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