Live coverage of the NASA SpaceX launch attempt Saturday at 3:22 p.m. ET will be streamed on foxbusiness.com.
SpaceX, which is planning a second attempt Saturday at its first astronaut launch, has had a big impact on two small Texas communities.
The Elon Musk company has a Rocket Development Facility in McGregor, Texas, and a Space Launch Facility in a fixed-income retirement neighborhood by the beach called Boca Chica in Brownsville, Texas.
Brownsville has an average home price of $85,900, according to U.S. government data website DataUSA. Its population is 182,083, and median household income is $35,636.
Satellite imagery shows about 35 houses in Brownsville's Boca Chica neighborhood, according to an October report from The Los Angeles Times. The Times said the assessed value of homes in the retirement community ranges from $24,000 to $149,000.
The arrival of SpaceX has brought good-paying jobs and economic development to the Brownsville area, according to space fanatic and photographer Austin Barnard, a 22-year-old college junior from East Texas studying aerospace.
"I can name 30 people I know who work at SpaceX who got hired in the last three months," Barnard told FOX Business. "And they just graduated college."
Some of those jobs are for welders making $35/hour.
"My dad always told me everyone in Brownsville is corrupt," said Barnard, whose dream is to go to Mars one day. "But Elon doesn't care about the politicians or what anyone else thinks. He's a free man. He believes in freedom of speech. ... He feels that American spirit inside. You can do anything you want, as long as it's not too crazy."
He said that after SpaceX came into the area, shoddy roads have been repaved, stores like Dick's Sporting Goods and Best Buy have arrived, a new academy has opened, and a planetarium could be on the way. Before the pandemic, new plazas were opening up, too.
But SpaceX's move into Boca Chica has also been rocky for some residents, who have complained of construction noise, notices of early-morning rocket launches and closures of the local beach, according to Texas author Rachel Monroe.
"This quiet community by a wildlife preserve now had 24/7 construction, big trucks at all hours, bright lights at night, awful disruption," Monroe wrote. "What does this mean? A sheriff's deputy bangs on your door at 10 p.m. and tells you there's a rocket test that night between 3-4 a.m. Now, this is a mile from your house. And every previous rocket has blown up."
SpaceX has offered to buy Boca Chica residents' homes for three times the assessed price, and most have accepted the offer, former resident Maria Pointer told FOX Business.
SpaceX did not respond to an inquiry from FOX Business.
Pointer, who sold her home just outside Boca Chica to SpaceX in 2019, told FOX Business that there are only seven people left who haven't moved.
Cameron County officers have to notify residents of launches ahead of time so they can step out of their homes or leave town for a day, because if something goes wrong, there is a chance windows can shatter or other damage can put residents in danger, The Atlantic reported in a profile of the small town in February.
"People don't understand how clean and beautiful and pristine Boca Chica was," Pointer said. "It was that last place in the U.S. that was untouched and accessible ... to retirees, right on the ocean. It was a sanctuary for everything: Turtles, birds, an eight-mile-long beach."
Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez did not respond to an inquiry from FOX Business.
"When SpaceX first identified Cameron County as a potential spaceport location, we did not anticipate that local residents would experience significant disruption from our presence," SpaceX wrote in a note to residents, according to The Atlantic.
The letters added that "expansion of spaceflight activities as well as compliance with Federal Aviation Administration and other public safety regulations will make it increasingly more challenging to minimize disruption to residents of the Village."
Pointer said she doesn't blame Musk for the disruptions or the fact that she had to leave her home. She supports the company's mission. In fact, she said she spoke to Musk directly, and he wanted to help. She blames Cameron County officials for not seeking the input of residents before SpaceX moved in.
A positive for Pointer: she has made something of a career out of taking photos and videos of the company's developments from her backyard under the name "Boca Chica Maria" on social media.
"We were documenting history from our backyard," she said.
Things have gone more smoothly in McGregor, population just over 5,000.
SpaceX has been testing rocket engines there since about 2002, when the company was founded, but the town put restrictions on what times the company can perform these tests in 2016 to limit noise disruptions, according to local news website the Waco Tribune-Herald.
Noise in the town has a threshold of 115 decibels -- about the noise volume of a loud motorcycle, the outlet reported, citing the Center for Hearing, Speech and Language. If SpaceX does not adhere to the town's limitations, it must pay a fee of $7,500 and discuss the situation with city officials.
The average home price in McGregor is $98,400, according to DataUSA. The town has a population significantly less than that of Brownsville at 5,056, and the median household income is $40,000, the website shows.
Residents in the town have fewer complaints about the engine-testing facility than residents in Boca Chica have with the launch site.
"In five years, I've gotten one complaint from someone who lives in McGregor and one complaint from someone who doesn't live in McGregor. If people are complaining, they're not doing it to this office," city manager Kevin Evans told the Tribune-Herald.
The planned launch will be the first time NASA has worked with a private company to send people into space, marking a historic moment for the U.S. private space technology industry and the government.