South Texas is about to make headlines for something other than hot button border issues. Commercial spaceflight company SpaceX just named the Brownsville, Texas area as the build site for its next major space launch hub. Announced in a press release from the governor's office, the spaceport will be built on 57 acres near Boca Chica Beach, joining NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston as the second major portal to space on the Gulf Coast.
With the site finalized, the state of Texas will provide $2.3 million from an enterprise fund and $13 million from a Spaceport trust fund, which arose out of a state spaceport authority established in 1999. Attracting a spaceport is a massive job creation opportunity for the often remote sites selected for commercial spaceflight centers.
Along with Virgin Galactic, SpaceX is one of two prominent commercial spaceflight ventures run by future-minded billionaires (Richard Branson and Elon Musk, respectively). Virgin Galactic made its home at the world's first purpose-built spaceport, Spaceport America, in a remote swath of desert near Truth or Consequences, N.M. SpaceX has conducted launches out of Spaceport America as well, though its more permanent footprint there is limited to a few trailers in contrast to Virgin's state of the art custom-built hangar and terminal.
And as Texas Governor Rick Perry notes, his state is no stranger to space. "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 the release.
SpaceX rang in the good news with the Florida launch of the AsiaSat 8 mission, which just launched a telecommunications satellite into space on the back of a Falcon 9 rocket. If you didn't stay up all night to catch the launch live, SpaceX has kindly provided a video so we space nerds can live vicariously.
H/T The Houston Chronicle | Photo via SpaceX