They Moved to Texas to Get Close to Starbase

Loren Grush visits 'Rocket Ranch' near SpaceX launch facility and reports back for the Verge
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2022 3:45 PM CDT
'Outcasts' Find Meaning in Their Passion for SpaceX
A view of the surrounding topography at the SpaceX launch facility outside of Brownsville, Texas.   (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald via AP)

In his quest to send people to Mars, Elon Musk has been launching rockets from a SpaceX facility in remote Texas, outside Brownsville and near a village called Boca Chica. The launch facility itself, called Starbase, has a "Willy Wonka" feel to to it, writes Loren Grush at the Verge. But her focus is not on Starbase. Instead, it's on a small community about 8 miles away dubbed Rocket Ranch. There you will find people from all walks of life who have one big thing in common: They love SpaceX—"and they had uprooted their lives to get closer to it," writes Grush. To be clear, these people don't work for SpaceX. But they zealously support the mission to reach another planet and follow it about as closely as it can be followed. Grush spent some time with them, among the trailers and the communal vibe, to find out why.

"We're kind of outcasts in our other circles," says property co-manager Anthony Gomez. (His journey here began in 2020 when he watched a SpaceX launch on YouTube, got hooked on the premise, and felt compelled to move to Texas.) "These are nerds and dorks and people that were made fun of for liking this stuff. And so, finally, we have a place where we can come together and share it." Grush recounts the "hyped" and "glowing" feeling one night around the bonfire, following a watch party for one of Musk's presentations at Starbase. All in all, Grush finds poignancy in the collective passion. "Maybe inhabiting Mars will happen in our lifetimes," she writes. "Maybe it won’t. Maybe it will never happen at all. In the end, you just have to have a little faith. And in this dry, flat patch of Texas, you’ll find no shortage of that." (Read the full story.)

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