Monday, August 4, 2014

SpaceX to build rocket launch site near Brownsville, Texas

Space Exploration Technologies' (SpaceX) founder Elon Musk announced Monday a strategic decision to build a launch site in the outskirts of Brownsville, Texas, where the company plans to fly its signature Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX already has launch sites at Vandenburg Air Force Base, Calif. and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The new site will be at Boca Chica Beach, on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico and saddling the Rio Grande.

The much anticipated decision finally came after more than three years of analyzing sites in Georgia, California, Virginia, Alaska, Puerto Rico and Florida. Earlier this month, the project was given the green light by the Federal Aviation Administration, as part of the federal environmental process.

The Greater Brownsville Incentives Corp. committed $5 million as part of the overall incentives package proposed to SpaceX for the commercial launch site and command center.

SpaceX plans to create 500 jobs over a 10-year period and invest $80 to $100 million in capital investment. The project entails three separate components: the rocket launch site, a control command center and a ground tracking station, all within two miles of each other.

"Our unique geographic location and proximity to both the equator and the Gulf of Mexico, gave Brownsville an advantage over the other locations being considered by SpaceX," said Jason Hilts, president and CEO of the Brownsville Economic Development Council.

The direct economic impact by SpaceX would be more than $51 million annually in salaries. Economic experts figure another 300 to 400 jobs will be created from suppliers either moving to or expanding in the Brownsville area.

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