BOCA CHICA BEACH, Texas (KVEO) — SpaceX is launching into the future and watching out for the sea turtles while they’re at it.
Elon Musk’s space travel program has the goal of enabling travel and human-living on Mars. Located in Boca Chica, SpaceX works with local environmentalist groups to protect native wildlife.
“SpaceX has now trained it’s employees to react during cold-stunned events,” said executive director of Sea Turtle Inc., Wendy Knight.
Cold-stunned is when turtles are paralyzed from the cold, preventing them from being able to lift their heads out of water to breathe.
Knight says SpaceX allows them to use their drone equipment cameras and ATVs to patrol for turtle activity before and after every launch.
“So, one of the things that they funded was: what is the frequency of activity on that beach normally,” said Knight.
Knight says SpaceX connected with them before and during construction to discuss sea turtle safety during operations.
Former executive vice president of the Brownsville economic development council, Gilberto Salinas, credits rigorous planning in their earlier years.
“We knew that the project was going to have to go public but essentially it was going to have to go through a public hearing, two separate federal public hearings,” said Salinas.
The Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, monitors SpaceX’s environmental impacts, including sea turtles as a top priority since it’s early days.
“It would be required to have special lighting that they would have to use at night that way whenever the baby sea turtles would hatch, they wouldn’t get disoriented and think that the SpaceX—or operation’s lights is the moon,” said Salinas.
SpaceX redesign plans for their vertical launch area, or VLA, were approved this month by the FAA after confirming no negative environmental impacts.
Sea turtle inc. Says they are continuing to monitor closely for any changes.