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Fish and Wildlife: SpaceX Starship debris covered 350 acres, no wildlife killed
Fish and Wildlife: SpaceX Starship debris covered 350 acres, no wildlife killed
by Clyde Hughes
Washington DC (UPI) Apr 27, 2023

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service documented the fallout from the SpaceX rocket that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico last week, scattering debris into the surrounding area.

The service said "no dead birds or wildlife" or debris from the spacecraft launch were found on lands belonging to the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, stating the greatest impact came in the form of damage from the rocket's booster to SpaceX's nearby launchpad.

"Impacts from the launch include numerous large concrete chunks stainless steel sheets, metal and other objects hurled thousands of feet away," the service said.

Debris was dispersed throughout the 385 acres of land belonging to SpaceX and the Boca Chica state park and a 3.5-acre fire was also found south of the launch pad within the state park but the service didn't provide details on a cause or how long it burned.

"A plume cloud of pulverized concrete that deposited material up to 6.5 miles northwest of the pad site," the service added.

Officials closed Boca Chica Beach and State Highway 4 for two days because of the debris.

Jared Margolis, a senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, told CNBC that the service's count of wildlife fatalities may not be accurate because they were delayed in getting to the park.

"If there were any mortalities from the launch-particularly from concrete chunks and metal being hurled thousands of feet into National Wildlife Refuge lands that are habitat for protected species, such as the piping plover, any carcasses would likely have been dragged off by scavengers, making it difficult to assess the full extent of impacts," Margolis said.

The test flight of SpaceX's Starship rocket, which is eventually set to carry crew and cargo simultaneously, ended with the spacecraft breaking up in what SpaceX commentators called a "rapid unscheduled disassembly."

The Federal Aviation Administration then moved to ground Starship until investigation can make sure "any system, process, or procedure related to the mishap does not affect public safety."

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, however, suggested on Twitter that the company could be ready to launch again in "one or two months."

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