SpaceX picks South Texas site for commercial launch facility

Aug 5, 2014
Austin American Statesman

SpaceX’s Elon Musk and Gov. Rick Perry said Monday that the space exploration company has decided to build the world’s first commercial Cape Canaveral in South Texas

The decision — three years in the making — reaffirms Texas’ role as a space state as the industry evolves from a government-only enterprise to a promising frontier for the private sector

“SpaceX is excited to expand our work in Texas with the world’s first commercial launch complex designed specifically for orbital missions,” Musk said. “In addition to creating hundreds of high-tech jobs for the Texas workforce, this site will inspire students, expand the supplier base and attract tourists to the South Texas area.”

Since 2003, SpaceX has tested rockets at McGregor, near Waco, with a current workforce of more than 250. The new launch site, which is planned for Boca Chica, a remote beach 20 miles east of Brownsville, is expected initially to add 300 SpaceX employees in Texas and $85 million in capital investment, Perry said

SpaceX plans to create 500 jobs over 10 years with more than $51 million annually in salaries, according to estimates by the Brownsville Economic Development Corp

The state is giving SpaceX a $2.3 million grant from the Texas Enterprise Fund and $13 million to help the Cameron County Spaceport Development Corp. build infrastructure. One of the challenges will be extending utilities to the remote site, which is surrounded by a federal wildlife area and a state park

Monday’s announcement is contingent on the approval of local incentives — at least $6.3 million — and permits, which local officials said is not expected to be a problem

“We will ensure that SpaceX has everything they need in order to be successful in the greater Brownsville Borderplex,” said Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez

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