A Starbase Adventure
On valentines day 2022 we got a surprise call from our oldest and dearest friends. Over 20 years ago we met Ramon and Maribel on a soccer field here in Las Cruces. Our son Arthur, and one their two boys were playing. We became great friends and enjoyed countless hours socializing, cooking, playing games, and listening to music. We even went camping. Then the Coast Guard assigned Ramon to Alaska and we bid them farewell.
About eight years ago we visited them in Staten Island New York. A few years ago Ramon retired as a W4 and we attended his ceremony in Virginia. They went home to Puerto Rico for quite a while to visit and help out with family and friends. More recently they have been traveling the southern states in a massive RV. They called us from Brownsville and asked us if we would like to visit Elon Musk. We could not be more happy with this news. Maribel said Boca Chica was a 30 minute drive from where they were staying.
Brownsville is a 13 hour drive from home, so we had to stop over half way. All in all is was a pleasant drive and we saw enough of Texas. Our friends put us up in splendid fashion and we has a wonderful time doing the things we used to do. We stayed for a week and were only able to visit Boca Chica once owing to road closures for testing, and sudden winter weather.
The port of Brownsville is very interesting. It is currently a hub for windmills. We saw trains pass by with turbine blades and generators for miles. Ramon said that most of the turbines were coming down the Mississippi river and then being hauled by truck and train throughout the southwest. We were then aware of why we had seen so many trucks hauling turbines north as we drove south. The plains just north of Brownsville host the largest wind farms we have seen anywhere.
SpaceX had stacked the Starship on top of the booster the week before our visit using the Chopsticks, and to much acclaim. They had de-stacked a few days before our visit, so we missed that.
The drive out to the site was interesting. There was one abandoned Tesla on the way, but what was really interesting was the power lines being run out there. There were hundreds of steel power pylons being strung with three-phase power. This seems to be progressing very quickly, as there were several power crews working along the way.
Gloria and I are frequent visitors to NASA and military bases and I have to say that driving out onto Starbase gave us goosebumps. The only visible security was Constable checkpoint where they saw Ramon's coastguard pass on the windshield and waived us right through. We saw one security guard with a holster just inside the gate of the orbital launch site. That was it.
I had always assumed that Boca Chica Village was at least a half mile away from the operations area. It is right in the middle of the complex. Nearly all of the houses sport Tesla solar roofs and the driveways and carports are complemented with Tesla automobiles. Then there is the Winnebago park. There are a lot of identical Winnebago mobile homes to house workers on site. I don't know how they evacuate everyone for testing. The orbital launch stand is 1.5 miles away. NASA keeps you 6 miles away from a launch at Cape Canaveral. South Padre Island is only four miles from the Orbital Launch Site.
The entire site positively hums with activity. Cross the sand berm at the end of the road and you are on the gulf coast with nothing but the sound of waves rolling in. Look left to see the end of the Rio Grande; look right to see Mexico. It was a surreal experience and we are forever grateful to our friends for the invitation.