Space-X launch site on Boca Chica beach confirmed as a 'Go'
POSTED: Monday, August 4, 2014 - 1:48pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, August 5, 2014 - 10:21am
BROWNSVILLE, TX (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — The Space-X launch site on Boca Chica beach is being confirmed as a 'go' at this hour.
Brownsville area officials have scheduled an announcement at 2:30 this afternoon, but word out at this hour is that the Company will be operating their launches into space from Boca Chica beach as soon as they can develop the launch pads and infrastructure.
Already, Congressman Filemon Vela has already congratulated local efforts to develop the rocket launch site and Governor Perry has noted that the state has pitched in 2.3 million dolars to assist in the effort.
Local and State officials have released several comments on the decision:
Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez announced today that SpaceX has officially declared Boca Chica Beach in Cameron County as the site for its commercial launch facility. “SpaceX’s presence in the Brownsville area will transform our region by creating jobs and stimulating not only our city’s economy, but that of the entire Rio Grande Valley,” said Mayor Martinez. “Brownsville, along with its many partners, is ready for this next chapter in our history.”
The planned commercial launch complex would be the world’s first private, commercial vertical launch site. The proposed site is 17 miles east-northeast of the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport and approximately five miles south of South Padre Island. "Today’s announcement brings great joy to our community – a community that has embraced this project from the very beginning and is ready to work hard to make it a success. Being selected over the other considered sites was a huge accomplishment that helped us reinforce old partnerships and create new ones,” said Commissioner John Villarreal. “No other city in the U.S. can boast of four distinct ports of entry: road, rail, air and sea. Today Brownsville becomes unique in the United States. Today we can now boast a fifth port of entry—space,” added Commissioner Deborah Portillo.
“With this announcement, Brownsville’s destiny has changed. No longer is the city a small town along the border. Today, we have become a key economic force in the state of Texas,” said Commissioner Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa.
“This experience has taught us that no dream is too far-fetched and no goal is every out of reach.”
Brownsville Commissioner Rose Gowan said, “Our children's future just took a huge step forward, and our community is well on its way to becoming a vibrant and thriving community!”
The city of Brownsville, Texas, is the county seat of Cameron County. It lies at the southernmost tip of Texas along the Texas-Mexico border, is the largest city in the lower Rio Grande Valley, and the 16th largest city in Texas. With a population of approximately 180,000, Brownsville is one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the United States.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) issued the following statement in response to SpaceX’s announcement that their commercial rocket launch facility will be located in Cameron County:
“Today is a historic day for South Texas. Texas has long been the epicenter of our nation’s space program and Space X’s new commercial launch facility will ensure that we continue to lead the world in the future of space exploration and discovery.”
Congressman Filemon Vela, Today, SpaceX announced their decision to select Boca Chica Beach—approximately 20 miles east of Brownsville--to serve as the location for their permanent rocket launch facility. Brownsville will now be home to future launches of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy orbital vertical launch vehicles. The proposed launch site could send up to 12 rockets a year into space both for private industry and possibly NASA. It is estimated that each launch will bring thousands of tourists to Cameron County. South Texas has been competing with Florida and Georgia for the launch site. SpaceX was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk.
“Countless city, county, state, and federal officials have worked diligently with SpaceX for years to make today’s announcement a reality. I congratulate all who helped bring SpaceX to South Texas, especially Mr. Elon Musk who saw the potential of our region through his vision about continued space exploration,” said Congressman Filemon Vela. “The establishment of a SpaceX launch facility will be tremendously beneficial for South Texas' economy and provide unique educational opportunities for students, scientists, researchers and create jobs locally. Already, there is a proposed project between the University of Texas at Brownsville and SpaceX, named STARGATE, which will allow students and faculty to use cutting-edge equipment to track satellites and spacecraft. I will continue to support SpaceX and fellow community leaders as we move forward with the project."
Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) releases the following statement responding to the official announcement by Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, that it will locate a private commercial space launch site at Boca Chica Beach in Cameron County.
As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Lucio worked with the Governor's office to allocate up to $15 million in the state's budget, contingent upon SpaceX locating a spaceport in Texas. Sen. Lucio was also the Senate sponsor for House Bill 2623 by Rep. Rene Oliveira, which ensures the public's right to beach access while also providing a way to protect public safety during SpaceX launches.
Senator Lucio's statement follows:
"I couldn't be happier about today's announcement, nor more excited about the possibilities this new Texas partnership with SpaceX will produce. SpaceX's future launch site will soon become an invaluable economic driver for South Texas. With this site comes tens of millions of dollars in capital investment in our community annually, and hundreds of well-paying jobs over the next decade. We've set up South Texas as a future leader in developing bleeding-edge space technology which will influence future commerce for the whole planet.
"Working with my fellow delegation members to support legislation to attract SpaceX to Texas was one of my proudest achievements of the last legislative session. Since then, I have continued to work as a liaison between the Governor's office and our local officials to ensure we continued to make the best case for the company locating to Texas. Today, after years of work from our local elected officials and economic development corporations, and then months of waiting with bated breath for FAA clearance, finally, the Rio Grande Valley has been guaranteed its space port.
"I hope the new launch site will propel a dramatic culture change in our region of the state, encouraging more of our children to pursue careers in engineering and science. Future generation of South Texas residents will look to this site and know that not even the sky is the limit for where their dreams may take them."
Gov. Rick Perry has announced the state is offering $2.3 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) to bring SpaceX’s commercial rocket launch facility to Cameron County. Contingent upon final approval of local agreements and receipt of additional required permits, this facility will create 300 jobs and pump $85 million in capital investment into the local economy.
“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,” Gov. Perry said. “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.”
The State of Texas and SpaceX first discussed this potential project in the spring of 2011 during a TexasOne mission to California. The governor has since met with SpaceX founder Elon Musk and provided letters in support of SpaceX’s efforts to get FAA clearance for the site. Governor’s Office staff has worked closely with local officials in South Texas throughout the process, and also testified before the FAA in support of bringing the project to Texas.
In addition to the TEF investment, the state is also offering $13 million from the Spaceport Trust Fund to the Cameron County Spaceport Development Corp. The fund is used to support the development of infrastructure necessary for establishing a spaceport.
SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft, and is the world’s fastest-growing provider of launch services. It is the only private company ever to return a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit, which it first accomplished in December 2010. SpaceX is also the first private company to attach a spacecraft to the International Space Station, exchange cargo payloads, and return safely to Earth – a technically challenging feat previously only accomplished by government space programs. SpaceX operates a Rocket Development Facility in McGregor, Texas which has grown to over 250 employees since starting operations in 2003. The Brownsville facility will launch commercial satellites.
“SpaceX is excited to expand our work in Texas with the world’s first commercial launch complex designed specifically for orbital missions. 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,” SpaceX CEO Elon 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.”
Texas has a long history with both public and private spaceflight. NASA’s Johnson Space Center served as a hub for America’s human space exploration program from the early Gemini, Apollo and Skylab projects to today's Space Shuttle and International Space Station Programs. Texas was also the launch site for the Conestoga 1 in 1982, one of the first privately funded rockets to reach space.
“What a historical moment for the greater Brownsville region and the State of Texas. It’s the culmination of a dream and a vision that began more than three years ago,” Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez said. “We will ensure that SpaceX has everything they need in order to be successful in the Greater Brownsville Borderplex. The team effort would have never succeeded but for the immense support of the people of Brownsville, all of its surrounding neighbors and the state – to all of you ‘mil gracias’ and watch us soar.”
The Legislature created the TEF in 2003 and reauthorized funding in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 to help ensure the growth of Texas businesses and create more jobs throughout the state. TEF projects must be approved by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House. The fund has since become one of the state's most competitive tools to recruit and bolster business.
To date, the TEF has invested more than $565 million and closed the deal on projects generating nearly 76,000 jobs and more than $24 billion in capital investment in the state.