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SpaceX chooses South Texas launch site September 11, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Basics, fun, Society, technology.
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Space Exploration Technologies Corporation of Hawthorne, CA, better known as SpaceX, has chosen a site in rural Cameron County, Texas, along Boca Chica beach south of the mouth of the Rio Grande River for its first fully private, commercial launch site.  The site was long favored by SpaceX, which may also develop other launch sites at other locations in the future.  The Texas site is expected to see around 12 launches a year beginning late this decade:

Elon Musk’s commercial space-transport firm, SpaceX, is building a commercial launchpad in South Texas along the Gulf of Mexico with help from more than $20 million in state and local incentives.

Local officials believe the launch site, east of Brownsville near Boca Chica Beach, will create 500 jobs over a decade and require as much as $100 million in capital investment. Beyond the $15.3 million Texas is giving the project, SpaceX will collect another $5 million from the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corp.

The SpaceX facility will cover about 50 acres along the coast, a few miles from South Padre Island, and involve a launchpad, control center, and ground-tracking station. The facility is designed to launch about a dozen commercial satellites each year, a lucrative business that SpaceX maintains it can perform more cost-efficiently than rivals can.

“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 said in a press release on Monday from Texas Governor Rick Perry’s office. SpaceX also has a rocket development facility in central Texas, near Waco. The company also considered sites in Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, and Alaska.

It will be pretty neat to be able to drive down to south Texas and see space launches.  I’ve never seen one, personally, though I saw the contrail left by a Titan IV launched from Vandenberg when in LA, once.  That was pretty cool.

Maybe they’ll even launch the Falcon Heavy from there.  4 million lbs of thrust in that one:


rC7sSBg

 

More frequent will be the Falcon 9:

dragon.launch.4

There have been reports, and continue to be, that SpaceX also wants to use this new spaceport as a production site for a new line of rockets with far larger core diameters.  The current Falcon 9 family has a 12 foot core, but SpaceX has proposed versions with cores on the order of 24 to 33 feet – the same as the first stage of a Saturn V.  One proposed version, called Falcon XX, would be capable of lifting over 240 tons per launch.  It is difficult to conceive whether there would be much demand for shooting 5oo,000 lb at a shot into orbit, or 200,000 lbs to the moon or Mars.  But SpaceX did produce a paper outlining such a few years ago, and this image has appeared on the web:

Falcons-1toXX

The one on the right is far larger than a Saturn V.  The point being, this launch site could develop into something much more than that, a very large production complex with ease of access, via the Intracoastal Waterway, to Cape Canaveral.  And that would be a great aid to the economy of South Texas.  This $20 million public investment, hardly an egregious amount, could turn into billions of dollars of infrastructure in one of the least developed parts of the state.

 

Comments

1. discipleofthedumbox - September 12, 2014

Private space exploration, no? Fantastic.

2. LaGallina - September 12, 2014

The best view will be at South Padre Island! This is going to be exciting — as long as we don’t get big-city traffic.

3. David - September 12, 2014

Tantumblogo:

Thanks for sharing this. I grew up on NASAs back gate in Houston during the early shuttle days. I recall the Challenger incident from 1986, and the return to flight in 1988.

These SpaceX concepts are much better than the latest government proposal, which is nothing more than a Saturn 1B with the shuttle SRBs. I think privatizing space is the way to go. Our college class did a special project in the 90s for the X-33, which unfortunately never got built.

By the way, I did like the T space concept design for a manned delivery vehicle to the space station.

nothing
nothing more than the SRBs


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