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FAA gives SpaceX 'record of decision' to apply for south Texas space port

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Houston Chronicle reported on Wednesday that the FAA has issued a “Record of Decision” that allows SpaceX to apply for a license to build a private space port at Boca Chica Beach near Brownsville. The FAA had previously issued an environmental impact statement that revealed that there were no environmental show stoppers for the space port. While no official announcement has been made, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has indicated that he intends to build in Texas once the FAA gives final clearance.

SpaceX faces a number of other regulatory hurdles from a number of federal and state agencies concerning various aspects of the space port. There is also some lingering opposition from a local group called Environment Texas. But the local communities surrounding the site of the space port are enthusiastic about the economic stimulus that launching rockets from south Texas will bring. State and local officials have moved heaven and Earth for the past two years to make sure that the facility comes to Texas and not some rival state, such as Florida.

SpaceX intends to launch up to 12 times a year from the south Texas space port its Falcon family of rockets, including the heavy lift Falcon Heavy. It will launch primarily commercial payloads, but also holds out the possibility that NASA satellites will fly from the space port to be located near mouth of the Rio Grande.

SpaceX had been very much in the news as of late. Besides launching cargo versions of its Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, it is awaiting approval to proceed with the crewed version under NASA’s commercial crew program. If approved, SpaceX would begin launching astronauts to the ISS by 2017. The company is also involved in litigation with the United States Air Force with lucrative military satellite launch contracts at hazard.