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  SpaceX Texas launch site: development and news

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Author Topic:   SpaceX Texas launch site: development and news
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30492
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-10-2014 08:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued its "Record of Decision," approving SpaceX's plans to perform launches from Boca Chica beach, near Brownsville, Texas. If SpaceX decides to go forward with the plan, it can now apply for a license to build the proposed 56.5-acre launch site.

The following is the project summary as included in the FAA's assessment.

SpaceX Texas Launch Site: Project Description

As part of FAA's Proposed Action of issuing launch licenses and/or experimental permits to SpaceX, SpaceX would construct a vertical launch area and a control center area to support up to 12 commercial launch operations per year. The vehicles that would be launched include the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy (up to two launches per year), and a variety of smaller reusable suborbital launch vehicles. Launch operations include not only launches, but also pre-flight activities such as mission rehearsals and static fire engine tests. SpaceX would be required to apply for the appropriate launch licenses and/or experimental permits to be issued by the FAA. SpaceX would be the exclusive user of the site.

The proposed vertical launch area is currently undeveloped and is located directly adjacent to the eastern terminus of SH 4 (Boca Chica Boulevard) and to Boca Chica State Park and Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge lands. It is located approximately 3 miles north of the U.S/Mexico border on the Gulf Coast and approximately 5 miles south of Port Isabel and South Padre Island. Access to the area is from SH 4. Proposed facility and infrastructure construction at the vertical launch area would include an integration and processing hangar; a launch pad and stand with its associated flame duct; a water tower; lightning protection towers (four total); a retention basin for deluge water; propellant storage and handling areas; a workshop and office area; a warehouse for parts storage; and roads, parking areas, fencing, security, lighting, and utilities. The parcel where the vertical launch area would be located is 56.5 acres; however, development of the vertical launch area would only comprise approximately 20 acres.

The proposed control center would be located immediately adjacent to Boca Chica State Park and Boca Chica Village, approximately 2 miles west of the proposed vertical launch area and north of SH 4. Proposed facility and infrastructure construction at the control center area would include two launch control center buildings; two payload processing facilities; a launch vehicle processing hangar; two radio frequency transmitter/receivers; generators and diesel storage facilities; roads, parking areas, fencing, security, lighting, utilities; and a satellite fuels storage facility. In addition, new power lines would be installed underground in the SH 4 road right-of- way from the control center area to the vertical launch area.

The Falcon 9 is a medium-lift class launch vehicle with a gross lift-off weight of approximately 1,100,000 pounds (lbs) with an approximate length of 224 feet (ft). The Falcon 9 uses liquid oxygen (LOX) and highly refined kerosene, also known as rocket propellant-1 or refined petroleum-1 (RP-1), as propellants to carry payloads into orbit. The Falcon Heavy is a heavy-lift class launch vehicle with a gross lift-off weight of approximately 3,400,000 lbs. It has a width of 36 ft and an overall length of approximately 224 ft.

All Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches would be expected to have payloads, including satellites or experimental payloads. In addition to standard payloads, the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy may also carry a capsule, such as the SpaceX Dragon capsule. Most payloads would be commercial; however, some could be Department of Defense payloads, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (or NASA) payloads, or a Federal contribution to a commercial payload. All launch trajectories would be to the east over the Gulf of Mexico.

During launch operations, access to the Boca Chica area, including SH 4 and Boca Chica State Park, would be closed to the general public for safety and security reasons (refer to Exhibit A-1). The closures would occur up to 12 times a year for a period of up to 15 hours each time, with 6 hours being the closure time for a nominal launch. The 15-hour closure period allows for potential aborts and contingencies. A closure for a wet dress rehearsal or static fire engine test would be shorter than a closure for a launch. Closures for a wet dress rehearsal or static fire engine test would typically be 3 hours or less. The total number of closures and closure hours for wet dress rehearsals, static fire engine tests, and actual launches would fall within SpaceX's proposed 12 launch operations per year or annual maximum of 180 hours of closure per year.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30492
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-04-2014 02:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Office of the Governor release
Gov. Perry Announces State Incentives Bringing SpaceX Commercial Launch Facility, 300 Jobs to the Brownsville Area

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."

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30492
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-22-2014 02:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX held a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday (Sept. 22) for its Commercial Launch Facility to be located in Brownsville, Texas. The following statements were released:
Elon Musk – CEO and Chief Designer, SpaceX

We appreciate the leadership of Governor Rick Perry and numerous other federal, state and local leaders who have helped make it possible for SpaceX to build the world's first commercial launch complex designed specifically for orbital missions. With today's groundbreaking at Boca Chica Beach, we will begin an investment in South Texas that will create hundreds of jobs and over time contribute hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy.

Governor Rick Perry

This announcement represents a huge step forward for our state and continues our nation's proud legacy of scientific advancement," Gov. Perry said. "It builds upon our pioneer heritage, our tradition of thinking bigger, dreaming bolder, and daring to do the impossible. SpaceX is the latest in a long line of forward-thinking companies that have made Texas home, and I couldn't be prouder to help break ground on this revolutionary new facility.

Senator Eddie Luico, Jr. (District 27)

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.

Today's groundbreaking is historic. It signifies the construction of a new industry and a new future for the Rio Grande Valley. SpaceX's 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.

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.

University of Texas at Brownsville

SpaceX has been an impressive company to work with through the entire site selection process. They have looked for ways to engage university faculty, our students and our commercialization programs. Clearly the SpaceX team understands the power of collaboration with the regional community and the University of Texas. — Irv Downing, Vice President of Economic Development and Institutional Advancement

Brownsville Economic Development Council

The SpaceX deal significantly changed the philosophy of Brownsville leadership, interagency collaboration and partnerships between the public sector, private industry and higher education in the quest of creating economic vitality, and not waiting for it. — Jason Hilts, President & CEO of the Brownsville Economic Development Council.

This is the first of many partnerships such as SpaceX which gives us excitement about Brownsville's horizon and ability to reach new frontiers — Keith Uhles, Chairman of the Brownsville Economic Development Council.

The capital investment of SpaceX in our region and its commitment to our young students, solidifies the fact that Brownsville's human capital will have the tools to work in innovative industries and in turn, they will help the Commercial Space Industry flourish in South Texas. — David Betancourt, Chairman of the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation.

Harlingen Economic Development Corporation

SpaceX's decision to locate a launch facility in Cameron County is a great addition to our community. Harlingen has pledged it's support for SpaceX and the aerospace industry in general as has been demonstrated by our commitment to provide financial support for SpaceX's efforts to create jobs in our region. This project and the benefits it will bring go hand in hand with our efforts to enhance the region's workforce and create an industry cluster which will create high-paying jobs and educational opportunities for our citizens. We look forward to fostering our relationship with SpaceX and its suppliers and working with TSTC-Harlingen, UTRGV, and our local schools to bring about an real changes in the lives of our community. — Raudel Garza, CEO, Development Corporation of Harlingen, Inc.

Point Isabel Independent School District

The Point Isabel Independent School District (PIISD) welcomes SpaceX to the Lower Rio Grande Valley area and to the Point Isabel Independent School District community. PIISD enthusiastically supports SpaceX as it begins its business endeavors in South Texas, recognizing that SpaceX presents unlimited possibilities, both economically and educationally, for the area and the nearly 3,000 students of PIISD and their families.

Dr. Lisa Garcia, Superintendent of Schools, maintains, "A high tide raises all ships" and with the impact of SpaceX on the Port Isabel community it is without a doubt the economic level of the community will be positively impacted through the creation of jobs. But, aside from the economic impact that SpaceX offers the community, SpaceX will also influence the hopes and aspirations of the students in this community.

With scheduled rocket launches from nearby Boca Chica Beach, PIISD students will have a front row seat to history with the expansion of commercial space flight. We have great confidence the PIISD school district motto of, "Honor Tradition, Lead Innovation," will be carried out as potential educational partnerships with SpaceX and the local university will allow students to explore careers in Science, Technology, Math and Engineering. As the school district prepares the next generation of forward thinkers for jobs that are yet to be invented; SpaceX will allow our students to not only dream, but to achieve those dreams.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30492
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-22-2014 02:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A few additional notes from the groundbreaking ceremony from SpaceFlight Now's Stephen Clark via Twitter:
  • SpaceX plans to finish work at Kennedy Space Center's Pad 39A before building out South Texas launch site.
  • First launch from South Texas site could be in late 2016 or 2017. Plan to focus on GTO (Geostationary Transfer Orbit) missions.
  • Commercial crews (meaning non-NASA crew flights) may also launch from South Texas.

dabolton
Member

Posts: 306
From: Minooka IL, US
Registered: Jan 2009

posted 09-22-2014 09:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How will SpaceX deliver boosters to Boca Chica; overland or ocean deliveries?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30492
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-25-2014 11:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I haven't seen SpaceX make any public statements to the effect, but I would think that stage and payload deliveries would be made as they are to Florida, by truck (with international payloads arriving to the area by plane).

dabolton
Member

Posts: 306
From: Minooka IL, US
Registered: Jan 2009

posted 09-25-2014 08:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Do you have any pictures of Falcon stages traveling by truck?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30492
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-25-2014 08:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
See here, here and here.
A truck carrying the first stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket arrives at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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