World's First Commercial Launchpad Coming to Texas
SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft is super cute in orbit.
Photo from SpaceX.com
It's been a months-long courting process complete with millions of dollars in offered incentives, but private rocket company SpaceX finally gave in to Texas' incessant beckoning to establish the world's first commercial spaceport in Brownsville.
The San Francisco headquartered company has toyed with the idea of planting a launchpad in Texas, and CEO Elon Musk's decision leaves broken hearts in runner-up Cape Canaveral, home of Space Florida.
"We appreciate the support of Gov. Perry and numerous other federal, state and local officials who have partnered with us to make this vision a reality," Musk said in a news release. "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."
Musk's commitment doesn't come cheap though - Gov. Rick Perry is prepared to deliver a moving package of more than $2.3 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund to help SpaceX settle in. For Musk, focusing his work in Texas will be mean closer collaboration with NASA's Johnson Space Center, traditionally the nation's only spaceflight agency to have launched astronauts.
Human spaceflight is something SpaceX has serious designs on accomplishing for itself. It and Orbital Sciences in Virginia have already launched rockets carrying cargo to the International Space Station, and SpaceX is currently developing the technology to make its Dragon spacecraft compatible with sustaining life in space.
Yet for the next few years at least, SpaceX will deliver cargo only, in particular commercial satellites. It aims to launch 12 missions a year through 2025. In return for hosting SpaceX's launch complex, Brownsville is expected to net $85 million in capital investments and about 300 new jobs.
"Texas has been on the forefront of our nation's space exploration efforts for decades, so it is fitting that SpaceX has chosen our state as they expand the frontiers of commercial space flight," Perry said in a statement. "In addition to growing the aerospace industry in Texas, SpaceX's facility will provide myriad opportunities for STEM education in South Texas, and inspire a new generation of Texas engineers and innovators."
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