Residents of an island in Indonesia, who fear ecological damage to the region, have decided to refuse entry to Elon Musk’s SpaceX after it was offered as a potential launch site for one of their projects.
However, locals have made their opposition more vocal by declaring that Mr Musk and his company was not welcome in their region. They fear the spaceport will increase deforestation and even drive locals out of their homes.
The locals are also opposed to the potential increase of Indonesian military, as the province has witnessed decades-long secessionist campaigns that have been challenging the government’s authority in the region.
“This spaceport will cost us our traditional hunting grounds, damaging the nature our way of life depends on. But, if we protest, we’ll be arrested immediately,” Manfun Sroyer, a tribal chief on the island, was quoted by the Guardian as saying.
Declaring the move as a form of intimidation, Ms Sroyer says: “In 2002, Russians wanted our land for satellite launches. We protested and many were arrested and interrogated… now they’ve brought it back, and this harassment and intimidation is still going on.”
However, an Indonesian government representative quoted by the Guardian said the planned spaceport was being developed in consultation with the Papuan government and local communities, and that Biak’s development as a “Space Island” would “bring positive economic impacts” for islanders.
This isn’t the first time the region has been chosen as a potential space launch site by the Indonesian government. Russia’s space agency is also developing a large rocket launch site from the Biak island by 2024, the Guardian noted.
The Papua province is one of the most naturally rich areas in the country and its location facing the Pacific Ocean and one degree below the Equator makes it ideal for launches as it will require less fuel in order to reach the orbit.
The billionaire and his company is also reportedly looking at the area’s massive nickel reserve, as a key component for its batteries.
This Article firstly Publish on www.independent.co.uk