Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Will SpaceX build a new launch pad in Texas?

The company known as SpaceX is considering building a rocket launch pad in the area near Brownsville, Texas.

By W.J. HenniganLos Angeles Times / April 11, 2012

In this image, the SpaceX Falcon 9 test rocket lifts off from complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla. SpaceX has taken steps toward building a new rocket launch site in Texas.

AP Photo/John Raoux

Enlarge

LOS ANGELES

Expansion-minded rocket venture Space Exploration Technologies Corp. may add a small Texas town on the Gulf of Mexico to its list of rocket launch sites.

Skip to next paragraph

The Hawthorne, Calif., company, better known as SpaceX, filed a document with the Federal Aviation Administration saying it was taking its first steps toward establishing a launch pad in Cameron County, Texas.

SpaceX already has a launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Fla., and is building a launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, northwest of Santa Barbara, Calif.

Company spokeswoman Kirstin Brost Grantham said SpaceX is considering multiple potential locations around the country for a new commercial launch pad. The area near Brownsville, Texas, along the coast, is a possibility, she said.

"There is a long way to go before this could happen," Grantham said.

Texas has long been associated with the nation's space program because of the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. But that's the mission control center, not a rocket launch site.

Only four U.S. states _ Virginia, California, Alaska and Florida _ have active launch sites.

The new document, which became public Tuesday, declared that SpaceX was preparing an environmental report for a possible launch pad and added that the company was gauging public opinion.

"SpaceX proposes to construct a vertical launch area and a control center area to support up to 12 commercial launches per year," the document said.

Gilberto Salinas, executive vice president of the Brownsville Economic Development Council, said that as a city in the southern tip of Texas, Brownsville was ideal for rocket launches.

He added that in the early days of NASA, Brownsville was considered as a possible center for space operations before officials settled on Cape Canaveral. "All these years later, we're glad to be looked at again," Salinas said.

SpaceX builds its Falcon 9 rockets and Dragon capsules in a vast complex in Hawthorne where fuselage sections for Boeing's 747 jumbo jets were once built.

The company also has a rocket-testing facility in McGregor, Texas. To date, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule have had two successful test launches from Cape Canaveral.

On April 30, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and unmanned capsule are scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral into space, where the Dragon will dock with the International Space Station in a demonstration for NASA. If it's successful, SpaceX would be the first private company to dock with the station.

Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

 

Doing Good

 

What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Endeavor Global, cofounded by Linda Rottenberg (here at the nonprofit’s headquarters in New York), helps entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

Linda Rottenberg helps people pursue dreams – and create thousands of jobs

She's chief executive of Endeavor Global, a nonprofit group that gives a leg up to budding entrepreneurs.

 
 
Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!