Residents of Boca Chica Village, Texas, near a SpaceX site in Brownsville received a warning from the Cameron County Office of Emergency Management that ran tests of the Starhopper prototype on August 26 might break windows of their homes, according to a local newspaper.
The potential risk
The alert reported that testing activities from 4:00 p.m to 4:15 p.m ET present “a risk that a malfunction of the SpaceX vehicle during flight will create an overpressure event that can break windows.”
Officials wrote in the warning that residents have to evacuate their homes during that period to avoid being hurt by the shattered glass: “At a minimum, you must exit your home or structure and be outside of any building on your property… to avoid or minimize the risk of injury.” A police siren will notify locals that the test is about to begin.
It’s likely that the overpressure referred to would be the outcome of a potential explosion of the prototype, which could be generating enough force to damage nearby damage.
The next test is supposed to be the last test of the Starhopper, which is a launch system prototype designed for SpaceX’s amazing Starship project. If all goes well, Elon Musk promises that he will follow up with a public presentation “hopefully mid-September”, when he will elaborate on the subject.
Establishing safety zones around commercial launch sites isn’t a new concept, but the fact that the safety zone contains a zone populated by humans is much odder. Locals publicly stated that they are frightened by the possibility of SpaceX shattering the windows of their homes.