Cameron County preps for SpaceX closures

SpaceX engineers continue work on Starship prototype "hopper" at Boca Chica Beach Wednesday morning as crew prepare to test the rockets engine. Photo by Miguel Roberts, The Brownsville Herald

In a first, Cameron County has announced possible closures of Boca Chica Beach and State Highway 4 for SpaceX testing that could span a week-long window, as opposed to three-day windows.

Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. announced in the public notice that closures are possible on June 20 and/or June 21 and/or June 22, as well as June 24 and/or June 25 and/or June 26 from 2 to 8 p.m. for space flight activities.

Testing was initially scheduled for this week, but during the last week of May and each week of June the county has announced the testing has been rescheduled.

In late April, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a Twitter post that crews were preparing for untethered hover tests.

SpaceX first started testing its Starship Hopper prototype at its Boca Chica Beach facility in late March, a culmination of years of planning and development in the area.

Those tests concluded April 3 with the Starship Hopper prototype making a fiery short tethered-hop after three weeks of periodic closures in the area.

At the time, Treviño said the county was in uncharted territory as SpaceX also moved into new territory by testing its Starship Hopper prototype. That resulted in a learning curve as technical challenges on SpaceX’s side required repeated closures of the area.

Musk, in a tweet on April 2, a day before the Starship Hopper prototype’s Raptor engine lit up the night sky, said ice delayed the inaugural “hop,” specifically “challenges with ice formation in the cryogenic propellant prevalves.”

In the weeks since, anticipation has built amongst SpaceX enthusiasts from Cameron County and beyond as the Starship Hopper prototype may make its first untethered hype.

But with that enthusiasm, there has also been concern from locals living next to the SpaceX and from people planning visits to Boca Chica Beach, who have reached out to the newspaper asking about closures.

For its part, the county has established a hotline for road closures, which can be reached by calling (956) 548-9541.