According to a Monday story in the Brownsville Herald, SpaceX has made the long awaited announcement that the commercial launch company will build a space port at Boca Chica Beach, near Brownsville, Texas. The deal has been in the work for over two years, with sites in Florida, Puerto Rico, and other places in competition. But a combination of location, Texas’ generally favorable business environment, and tax and other incentives offered by state and local governments won the prize for the Lone Star State in the end.
The new commercial space port will launch 12 rockets per year. These will include the SpaceX workhorse Falcon 9, the planned heavy lift Falcon Heavy, and a number of suborbital reusable vehicles. The rockets will loft primarily commercial payloads such as communications satellites, but also possibly some NASA payloads.
While Texas, the city of Brownsville, and surrounding communities lured SpaceX with a variety of tax breaks and regulatory perks, South Texas expects to reap huge rewards in job creation and economic development. The possibilities of encouraging STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education related to the space port have also gotten local and state officials excited. Brownsville has been a sleepy border town for most of its existence. Now it is about to get noisy with the prospect of rockets rising above the Gulf of Mexico, headed for space.
The advent of the SpaceX space port also cements Texas as a space state. Texas has always taken considerable pride in the fact that NASA’s Johnson Spaceflight Center is located just south of Houston. More recently, a number of commercial space firms have established test facilities in Texas. These include XCor in Midland, Blue Origin in West Texas, and SpaceX itself in McGregor. But now that the long regulatory process is all but come to a close, an actual space port is at last coming to Texas.