SpaceX’s Elon Musk’s decision to build a space port on the Texas Gulf Coast has been met with near universal acclaim, albeit perhaps muted from Florida, which lost out on the hunt for a commercial launch facility. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a conservative firebrand, tweeted, “Congrats to Texas & @SpaceX for their commitment to a commercial launch facility in Cameron county!” However a writer for Breitbart California took a much dimmer view of the deal in a Wednesday article.
“Texas appear to have ‘bought the deal’ by offering an $100 million economic incentive package. However, many Southern Californians are appalled that after multi-billionaire SpaceX Chairman Elon Musk suckered the state Legislature into a wildly advantageous crony capital tax exemption for SpaceX, Musk would take his next slurp of crony capitalist cash from Texas.
“Perry announced that Texas offered SpaceX an incentive package of $15 million in cash on closing and the commitment to pump $85 million into infrastructure investments to support SpaceX’s needs in the Brownsville area. The move will initially add 300 high-paying jobs to the community that was rated the poorest city in America.”
The author of the piece seems to be somewhat confused about where some of the money is coming from. It is true that the state of Texas is offering $15 million in incentives. But as US News points out, the $85 million is coming from SpaceX to build the commercial space port and the infrastructure to support it.
The main gist of the article is that SpaceX somehow snookered the state of California into giving it tax breaks and then moved to Texas. However there was no possibility that California was going to get a space port. The selection of Texas was certainly based partly on incentives as well as the business friendly environment in the Lone Star State. But it was also based on physics and geography. SpaceX needed a space port situated for equatorial launches. Besides Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico were the main contenders. California was never in the running.
Nor is SpaceX leaving California. It has no plans to move its Hawthorne headquarters nor its vehicle factory in California. Both facilities are in the midst of an aerospace complex that includes many old line companies such as Boeing as well as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
While Florida is likely miffed at having lost out to Texas, it will not hurt for lack of SpaceX business. The company has leased Pad 39A from NASA from which it will launch, among other things, the piloted version of the Dragon spacecraft. The final advantage Texas had over Florida is that the Brownsville spaceport would be controlled solely by SpaceX, which would not have to share a flight range with NASA or the Defense Department as it does in Florida.