A YouTuber recorded himself entering SpaceX’s Starship rocket facilities in south Texas last month, freely sauntering on site. No security stopped him from wandering around the underside of SN11, the 16-story-tall rocket prototype that would launch and explode just a few days later.
The video was posted to a small YouTube channel called Loco VlogS, which is run by “Caesar.” Caesar did not respond to multiple emails and DMs asking for comment.
For space enthusiasts, SpaceX’s sprawling rocket campus in Texas just a few miles north of the Rio Grande is a tantalizing museum of rocketry just laying out in the open, housing millions of dollars worth of tech — some of which SpaceX has pitched to the Air Force and NASA. It doesn’t have the towering walls or advanced security one might expect a company to have for safeguarding sensitive (and potentially dangerous) rocket hardware.
Development of Starship, the centerpiece of Elon Musk’s goal to ferry humans and cargo to the Moon and Mars, is aided in part by a $135 million NASA contract to help mature its design under the agency’s Human Lunar Landing system program.
“NASA takes safety and security very seriously,” said Monica Witt, spokeswoman for the agency. “The Human Landing System contracts include requirements for the contractors to appropriately safeguard information, software, and hardware. SpaceX notified NASA that they investigated this incident.”
Caesar entered the rocket site and seemingly moved around SpaceX hardware and equipment with ease, recording closeups of Starship SN11’s Raptor engines. The video garnered 5 likes and at least 100 dislikes, as well as a barrage of comments from pissed-off SpaceX fans, before he deleted it, according to a different YouTube account that archived the video. In a classic YouTube move, Caesar posted an apology video a few days later on April 1st.
“Yes it was wrong, yes it was illegal,” he said in the apology video. “But in my eyes, in that time of moment, I didn’t really think about that... What went through my mind was, ‘Okay, I’m never gonna get this opportunity again.’ So I went for it. And, well, this happened.”
The Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates launches and launch infrastructure for the sake of public safety, said it was aware of the video and brought it to SpaceX’s attention. “Maintaining the physical security of a launch facility is an important aspect of ensuring public safety,” a spokesman said. SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment.
The site has had similar security issues before. In 2019, a SpaceX fan was arrested after posting pictures of himself near another Starship prototype to social media.