A new border security proposal took one step closer to becoming law on Thursday, which should be welcome news to SpaceX and its South Texas launch facility, which could have seen Donald Trump’s desired $5.7 billion border wall cut right through it.
While the border deal is far being being resolved, and could still be delayed further prompting a court battle, a new detail in the provision holds that the current launch site will now remain untouched.
The aerospace company owns a roughly 57-acre stretch of rural area in the Boca Chica Village, three miles from the United States’ southern border. In December, the New York Times reported it this way:
Mr. Musk is just one of the potentially hundreds of private landowners in Texas who would be disrupted by the president’s desire to build a “big, beautiful” wall.
SpaceX’s Starship, intended to one day take humans to Mars, is currently being constructed, tested, and finalized at the Boca Chica station.
Is Boca Chica In the Clear?
This is all thanks to the efforts of a bipartisan group of legislators who penned a deal that would seriously curtail President Donald Trump’s original border wall plans. It cut funding for the barrier down to $1.3 billion, and would only extend the current barriers on the border by 55-miles, no where near far enough to touch SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility. That said, there’s still a chance that the aspirations of the President and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk could inadvertently collide in the future.
Thursday night, Congress will vote on whether or not to pass the newly proposed border legislation. Once passed, it’ll go to the President’s desk to sign into law. Normally that would be the end of it, but, at that point, he is still expected to declare a state of emergency in an effort to get more funding than the bill has set out. This would be a pretty unprecedented step, likely resulting in further court battles, which would then put the fate of SpaceX’s South Texas facility in the hands of a legal ruling.
If Trump is able to declare a state of emergency to acquire more funding, SpaceX could also push back by taking legal action itself. The U.S. government has already began seizing private property in Southern Texas last June through the process of eminent domain. If it were to do that to the Boca Chica facility, Musk’s company itself could sue in its own right to stall any further actions, assuming he doesn’t want to sell it.
Any interruption of operations at South Texas facility could mean delays for SpaceX’s ambitious goal of having it fully constructed and ready for its uncrewed maiden voyage in 2022. Musk tweeted that he plans on using the grounds to conduct a series of “hop tests” of the Starship prototype currently residing there in either March or April.
SpaceX seems to be in the clear momentarily, but the future for its Starship base is still foggy.