SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas – The shores at Isla Blanca Park are expected to be the place where hundreds of space enthusiasts and islanders go to watch a test launch across the water at SpaceX’s Starship facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
With the Starship SN8 launch teasingly imminent, South Padre Island has found a lot more tourists walking the streets. The view of the SpaceX launch facility just a few miles across the water.
“Everybody wants to see it happening,” said James Baxter, a Houston native and South Padre Island transplant.
Tourists like Eric and Tammy Patton traveled from Maryland and have stayed for days in hopes to catch the SN8 prototype fly.
“When we heard about SpaceX and that awesome dude, Elon Musk, we absolutely loved it! He’s like, ‘I’m getting a rocket off in three years’ It took 1 year!” Eric Patton said.
“We were in California when [SpaceX] did the last one,” Tammy Patton said. “We were watching, and I was crying. I was so excited!”
They don’t think they will leave South Padre Island.
“We have a place now for 30 days, and we’re looking for an apartment,” Eric Patton said.
Local shops and businesses miles away are experiencing an increase in business from SpaceX settling in town.
“Even in Brownsville, surrounding areas ... the hotels ... a lot of them are occupied by employees of SpaceX,” Baxter said.
Baxter is a Space City native now building a life near a budding spaceport.
“I grew up in Houston,” Baxter said. “We get to hear and feel the rumble every time the engine fires!”
Anna Lyson works at a local shop on Padre Boulevard called Calypso.
“People were saying that this is just for retired folks,” Lyson said. “I don’t think that’s the case anymore. There’s a lot of young generation making roots down here to be a part of this.”
She is uniquely impacted by SpaceX.
“I’m very proud to say that my husband works for SpaceX, that my husband is working for SpaceX, and we actually moved down from the Pennsylvania area to SPI to kind be a part of this awesome history in the making,” Lyson said.
She said she sees this as a good thing for businesses and community-building, but she said, not everyone is on board.
“There are some people who weren’t too happy with SpaceX coming in here, But at the same time there is just as many people very excited,” Lyson said.