Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it will “allow Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) to launch the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy orbital vertical launch vehicles and a variety of reusable suborbital launch vehicles from a launch site on privately owned property in Cameron County, Texas.”
The facility itself is planned at 56.5 acres and located east of Brownsville, TX on the Gulf of Mexico.
Texas lures SpaceX
How Texas lured SpaceX to the site has yet to be reported but subsidies and incentives were almost certainly involved.
While Texas is enjoying something of an oil and gas renaissance, at the same time the state has nearly 500,000 tech employees.
“Texas was ranked as the No. 2 state for high-tech employment by the national industry association TechAmerica Foundation in its annual Cyberstates report.” according to the office of Governor Rick Perry.
SpaceX’s proposed spaceport will only further the state’s aims to play host to more and more tech companies.
“Now, until the first stake is driven, I guess we won’t know for sure. But they certainly seem to be putting a fair amount of effort into getting approval, and I don’t see them doing it to that extent elsewhere. So my prediction would be yes [it will be built],” said the president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and former Space Station Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria in a telephone interview with the Valley Morning Star.
Texas gains while Florida suffers
While Texas is celebrating, Florida, which presently plays host to SpaceX launches including one on Monday from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, will lose the revenues it generates from the commercial space agency.
“We kind of have known it’s coming for a while,” said Dale Ketcham, of Space Florida. “But it’s still going to be a traumatic and not insignificant disappointment.”
SpaceX is looking to build its own facilities given the regulatory issues the company faces along with the bureaucratic morass that is NASA and the military and that is where Texas comes into the equation.
“We would become a portal to space … [only] four or five other community cities can say that in the U.S,” said Gilbert Salinas, Brownsville Economic Development Council (BEDC) executive vice president.