From the "well, I'll be" category, and courtesy of
we read that in an effort to overcome the hassles to their operation of
working around road closure requirements, SpaceX has proposed building a
tunnel to simplify things. For those who didn't get my joke in the post title, Elon Musk also owns The Boring Company that, well, bores tunnels.
As SpaceX has ramped up Starship testing and launch activities in South Texas in recent years, the company has more frequently sought the closure of the Boca Chica Highway. This two-lane road runs along the company's rocket assembly and launch facilities.
Residents of South Texas use the highway primarily to travel from Brownsville and nearby towns to Boca Chica Beach, the southernmost beach in Texas. When the road is closed, no one can access or remain on the beach.
This situation has become a logistical headache for SpaceX, which seeks road closures to move rocket hardware along the road and for tests and launches. It has also been unpleasant for nearby residents and those who enjoy the undeveloped beach.
Now, SpaceX founder Elon Musk has a potential solution. The Brownsville Herald reports that officials from Musk's The Boring Company met with Cameron County officials in July to discuss digging a tunnel from the south end of South Padre Island to the north end of Boca Chica Beach, facilitating alternate access to the barrier island.
The tunnel would serve a couple of purposes. It would allow people in the area to still access Boca Chica Beach, but it would also probably reduce commuting times for SpaceX employees who live on South Padre Island and that area.
The tunnel itself wouldn't be particularly long, but it would have to be deep. The distance from South Padre island to Boca Chica beach is about a half mile, but it's under a shipping channel. Now the Boring Company has only done one tunnel for hire, a 1.7-mile project in Las Vegas that cost $52 million. I have no details on how that one compares to what's needed here.
As you might expect, a small county in south Texas didn't seem particularly interested in contracting to get a tunnel put in. I imagine they said something along the lines of, "if you want a tunnel, pay for it yourself. Cost of doing business. Oh, and you'd better not do anything that would interfere with shipping in our port."
Boca Chica Highway with SpaceX's facilities in the distance. Photo by Trevor Mahlmann for Ars Technica, in August of 2020 when those facilities were quite a bit smaller than they are today.
Probably the most intriguing story in this week's Rocket Report.