Elon Musk became the richest man in the world thanks to the zeal of Tesla Inc.’s smooth electric cars. – and company stock price. But while Musk is perhaps the most well-known clean energy officer, SpaceX, one of his companies, may have relied on natural gas to power Starship, a new spacecraft and a rocket designed to transport humans to the moon, Mars and beyond.
Musk’s SpaceX aims to use a site in South Texas to launch rockets to transport people and goods to the moon and Mars. To do so, the company intends to dig up gas sources for its own fuel and electricity, according to a Federal Aviation Administration document seen by Bloomberg.
Musk has long ridiculed the oil sector, claiming renewable energy and electric vehicles as keys to prevent climate catastrophe. But the FAA text and SpaceX comments to Texas executives indicate that, at least in the short term, some of his goals will be based on fuel emissions plans that are already drawing criticism from environmental groups.
While Musk said he ultimately intends to emit carbon into the atmosphere to produce fuel, the least expensive way to do so is not yet done. A millionaire has donated $ 100 million to receive the award for “advanced carbon dioxide technology.”
The SpaceX site in Texas will be provided by at least five nearby gas sources, as well as two power stations, according to a FAA document. Refined electricity from the wells will be fed into refrigeration equipment that converts it into liquid methane, the document said. Methane can be combined with liquid oxygen and other compounds to form rocket fuel.
SpaceX did not respond to comment requests. But in a hearing last week with the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas in the province, the company’s lawyers said the gas from the sources would be used for “rocket operation.”
A FAA spokesman said that the document which was seen by the Bloomberg appears to be an unfinished document for environmental review, a FAA spokesman said. The public comment period that was ended last week will be used to complete the official framework for evaluation.
The company is also seeking approval from the FAA to add gas and fossil fuels, and plans to expand a solar-powered farm and build a water treatment plant to remove water, according to agency records.
SpaceX originally built a coastal area for its Rockcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, which are used to navigate satellites, but never used that purpose. The company is now seeking permission to use it as a launch site for airlines that will carry people and goods to the moon and mars, according to FAA records.
One possible reason for SpaceX gas production systems: direct integration. Musk is a long-time supporter of the strategy, which he has used to keep control of his supply chain companies. By drilling for gas, SpaceX will avoid paying a third party to produce it and put it in a pipeline where it will be introduced.
Depending on the liquid-oxygen-to-liquid methane ratios, a single launch would require tens of millions of cubic meters of electricity.
Even without considering the need for gas to generate SpaceX power gaps in the Texas area, a minimum implementation of 10 per year would require about half a cubic meter. That would cost about $ 1.37 million, depending on the future of the equity gas market in New York.
To protect that gas, SpaceX launched its subsidiary Lone Star Mineral Development in June. The company wasted no time in buying the mineral rights in the area, as well as the lease of 806 hectares originally run by Houston-based oil company Sanchez Energy, which called itself Mesquite Energy after the collapse last year.
It is unclear how much Lone Star will be able to withdraw from the site, however. Cameron County, where the launch site is located, is not a major fuel source. Sanchez’s lease, made in 2011, generated about 536 million cubic meters of electricity in that first year, according to the Railways Commission’s data. But after that, production continued to decline until a source was released in March 2014.
Geology is not the only obstacle to SpaceX’s gas production programs. The company faces legal challenges with a piece of land that forms a small corner of the lease agreement. The closest co-ordinator Dallas Petroleum Group LLC says there has been a property tax levy on two sources there and is asking the Railways Commission to resolve the resource management dispute with the Lone Star. It had previously sued Sanchez for access to the sources, and dropped the case on Friday to file SpaceX and Lone Star as defendants.
Lone Star also bought two overseas rigs from football contractors Valaris Plc last year. They could be used as arrival packages for potential SpaceX rockets, the FAA records show.
The unity of the twelve environmental groups is already raising awareness about SpaceX expansion plans. The rocket launch site has exceeded its original permit, and the company’s plans threaten a critical wildlife corridor near the U.S. border. And Mexico, according to the federation.
Excessive traffic on the highway leading to the launch has significantly increased the number of animals killed by vehicles, and the closure of rocket roads has prevented biologists from studying endangered migratory species, according to David Newstead, director of conservation projects for Corpus Christi-Estuary Coastal Program.