Elon Musk's SpaceX is developing giant Mars rockets in a sleepy town in southern Texas. Here's what it's like to visit.
- SpaceX, the rocket company founded by Elon Musk, has been developing a launch site in south Texas since 2014.
- The facility is located in about 17 miles east of Brownsville, one of the most impoverished US cities, and surrounds a small community called Boca Chica Village.
- SpaceX initially planned to launch a dozen commercial payloads a year from the site. Now it's using the private spaceport to develop Starship: a rocket designed to send people to Mars.
- Business Insider recently visited the area and chatted with locals. Here's what we saw and heard.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
In June 2012, SpaceX quietly started buying up properties in Boca Chica, Texas: a remote, rugged, and sleepy beach community in the southernmost tip of the state.
Two years later, Elon Musk's company gained approval from federal, state, and local governments to build what he said would be the world's first commercial spaceport. By late 2018, however, SpaceX converted the facility into skunkworks for development of a giant, fully reusable space vehicle called Starship.A completed Starship (formerly called Big Falcon Rocket) would have a giant spaceship sitting atop a powerful, reusable booster. If all goes according to plan, the launch system could stand nearly 400 feet tall, lower the cost of accessing space by a factor of 10, and enable humanity to walk upon Mars in the mid-2020s and build a sustainable city there in the 2050s
SpaceX's launch site is unique for other reasons, though - including the fact that a small village of people live inside it. Some residents can see this futuristic vision of spaceflight being built and tested from the windows of their homes.
To gain a better understanding of the site and its future, Business Insider traveled to Boca Chica, met with residents, spoke to local experts, and took a look around. We even witnessed the very first "hop" of a stubby steel Starship prototype called Starhopper.
Here's what SpaceX's south Texas launch site is like, what we saw there, and some of the things we heard.