At the tail end of a Friday Washington news conference in which he announced a successful ocean soft landing of the Falcon first stage and a law suit against the Air Force, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk indicated that Texas will be the site of that company’s private launch facility. All that is standing in the way is an environmental impact statement from the FAA. That report is expected by the end of May.
The indication that Texas has beaten Florida, Georgia, and Puerto Rico in the contest to attract the commercial space port comes as good news to Lone Star State politicians and businessmen who have been moving heaven and Earth to make it happen. A number of tax breaks and a law mandating that nearby beaches be closed during launches passed the Texas legislature to entice SpaceX.
The space port will be located near Brownsville on the southern tip of Texas near the mouth of the Rio Grande. It will serve as an economic stimulus to the relatively impoverished area. The space port could also serve as a center of science and engineering education.
Texas has been considered a space state ever since NASA’s manned space center was located south of Houston. “Houston” was the first word spoken on the surface on the moon during the mission of Apollo 11. More recently Texas has been able to attract a number of commercial space entities, including XCOR in Midland, Blue Origin near Van Horn, and SpaceX itself in McGregor. Another space port is being planned at Ellington Field south of Houston.
SpaceX intends to have the Brownsville spaceport in the next couple of years. Initially it will launch commercial and government payloads at a rate of once a month. Unlike facilities being leased at the Kennedy Space Center, SpaceX will have complete control of its own space port and the all important flight range over the Gulf of Mexico.