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SpaceX's Brownsville, Texas spaceport

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#1 DocM


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Posted 13 April 2014 - 07:15

Their plans are taking shape. The US Fish & Wildlife Service report came back positive, so all that remains is the FAA's Environmental Impact Statement which is due next month.

24 months to complete construction from GO.


Fed, state officials embrace SpaceX progress

State and federal officials say they welcome recent developments that have advanced SpaceXs proposal to build the worlds first private, commercial vertical launch site and control center in Cameron County.

The state stands ready to continue to support local officials in recruiting the SpaceX project to South Texas, Gov. Rick Perrys spokeswoman, Lucy Nashed, told the Valley Morning Star.

The governor is a strong supporter of bringing commercial space travel to Texas, she said.

We continue to wait for the Federal Aviation Administrations final environmental impact study, she said.
Consultations on the proposal involving U.S. Fish and Wildlife, SpaceX and the FAA began Oct. 10, 2012.
Construction plans also are included in the consultations, and reveal a 24-month timeframe for building both the launch site and the control center facilities a few miles inland. Most construction would occur from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and night construction would occur for about four weeks combined in order to pour concrete and place pilings.

The planned launch area occupies 20 of the 56.5 acres leased by SpaceX. The acreage that SpaceX additionally owns would remain undeveloped.

Facilities within the launch area include about 43,200 square feet of hangar space, launch pad, launch stand with flame duct, 250-foot-tall water tower, water retention basin, storage and handling areas, a workshop of about 10,800 square feet and 40 feet tall, a 3,200-square-foot office, a warehouse, roads, parking area, fencing, security gates and utilities.

Parking for the launch and control areas would accommodate up to 250 personnel. The area also would include exterior lighting, security fences and gates.

Potable water would either be delivered by truck to a holding tank at the vertical launch area, or pumped from a well on the property. The septic system would consist of a mobile above-ground processing unit and holding tank. Power and data lines also would be installed.

Two six-foot-tall perimeter chain-link fences would be erected around the vertical launch area and would enclose about 20 acres, with an inner access road between the fences to support security.

The plans show that the proposed control center area, two miles west of the vertical launch area, would include two launch control center buildings, payload processing facilities, a hanger, roads, parking areas, fencing and utilities.

Control center buildings are planned to be single story, about 14,186 square feet, and 30 to 45 feet in height.

Payload processing facilities will be about 14,669 square feet, and 65 to 85 feet tall.

The launch vehicle hangar will be 30,774 square feet, and 50 to 65 feet tall.

It should be similar to their Vandenberg SLC-4E site

Flame trench

View from pad side (launch T/E is >210 fee tall) (big pic)

Reverse angle

#2 Beittil



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Posted 13 April 2014 - 11:57

I wonder how long it will take for SpaceX to make the announcement after the FAA EIS comes in :) And when the ground breaking ceremony is!

#3 OP DocM


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Posted 13 April 2014 - 12:38

Announcement, probably no longer than it takes their lawyers to review it.

Break ground, pretty quick given what's happened at KSC. I'd bet the plans have been finished for months and the contractors are already lined up.

#4 OP DocM


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Posted 27 April 2014 - 05:36

One more item in Elon Musk's recent press conference was confirmation of what has been long suspected.


Elon Musk on Texas spaceport: “We’ll probably have that site active in a couple of years."

At the tail end of a news conference today in Washington D.C. the founder ofSpaceX, Elon Musk, was asked whether a site had been chosen yet for much anticipated SpaceX commercial launch site.

His reply, “We’re also developing a launch pad on the south coast of Texas … We’ll probably have that site active in a couple of years.”

All he’s waiting for, Musk said, is an environmental clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration, which he expects to receive soon.

This site, if it is indeed built, would allow for launches of both the Falcon 9 (already flying) and Falcon 9 Heavy (under development) from south Texas, near Brownsville. These launches would be for commercial (i.e. satellites) as well as possibly NASA purposes.

There have been a number of indications that SpaceX intended to build the site in south Texas, but Musk’s statement today is the clearest sign yet that, in a few years, Texans will be able to see rocket launches up close and personal.

For a state that’s seen a loss of space business due to a downturn in activity at Johnson Space Center over the last five years this is huge news.

MAP: Brownsville TX/ Boca Chica spaceport & McGregor TX rocket test facility

Green = SpaceX land purchases & leases, Red= launch site

Launch site plan

Concept art

The F9/FH Transporter/Erector/Launcher will likely be similar to the one at Vandenberg AFB. The Falcon 9 here is 224 feet high, though later ones will approach 245 feet due to a longer cargo fairing.

#5 OP DocM


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 01:34

The SpaceX Brownsville / Boca Chica spaceport FINAL Environmental Impact Statement has been released but the link isn't live yet. FAA web page below.

If positive SpaceX is likely to announce its new spaceports location soon, possibly during tomorrow's Dragon V2 unveiling (as if there's any doubt where they want to build it.)



The Federal Aviation Administration has released the final environmental impact statement pertaining to SpaceX, which will help determine whether the company can build a rocket launch site in Cameron County.

The FAA this afternoon released the much anticipated report that local, county and state officials have been waiting for, for almost a couple of years, however it is not yet available for download.

Nearly two years since SpaceX announced that Texas is one of four sites under consideration for a commercial rocket launch pad, officials have courted the private commercial company, offering deals to lure it to set up shop on Boca Chica Beach. Texas reportedly has offered $15 million in incentives to lure SpaceX to South Texas.

The EIS draft released in April 2013 reviewed 11 resource areas for potential environmental impacts created by the proposed construction and operations there. The FAA looked at compatible land use; properties; noise; visual resources and light emissions; historical, architectural, archaeological and cultural resources; air quality; water resources; biological resources including fish, wildlife and plants; hazardous materials; socioeconomics; natural resources; and secondary impacts.

Although the FAA draft report found “no impacts would occur” that would result in the FAA denying a permit, it did provide a summary of potential environmental impacts from the proposed action by SpaceX.

On the heels of the final report, SpaceX might announce its decision on whether to come to South Texas.

Texas is one of four sites being considered by SpaceX. Other possible locations include Florida, Georgia and Puerto Rico.

The proposed Texas site is at the eastern end of State Highway 4, about three miles north of the Mexican border and about five miles south of Port Isabel and South Padre Island.

#6 AnotherITguy



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Posted 29 May 2014 - 01:40

wow, nice to hear about Dragon 2.0, when is the press conference?

#7 OP DocM


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 01:55

Tomprrow evening US time. Webcast on SpaceXs page and Livestream.

Details here,


#8 OP DocM


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 15:53

Boca Chica FAA Environmental Impact Statement

V1 – Executive Summary and Chapters

V2 – Appendices

V3 - comments

#9 OP DocM


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Posted 02 July 2014 - 13:33


Programmatic Agreement PDF....

As the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision looms on allowing SpaceX to launch rockets from Cameron County, Elon Musk’s space exploration firm has again purchased land at the proposed Boca Chica Beach site.
FAA is expected to issue its decision early this month.

The additional land purchases came following finalization of a “programmatic agreement” between the FAA, the Texas State Historic Preservation Officer, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and SpaceX.

#10 OP DocM


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Posted 09 July 2014 - 20:53


PDF link....

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a Record of Decision that will allow for SpaceX to apply for a license to build a rocket launch site in Cameron County—which would be the first commercial launch facility in the nation.

The decision was released today, giving SpaceX clearance to take the next step, if the space exploration company chooses to build a launch pad near Boca Chica Beach.

“It is a significant step in what will hopefully be a positive final outcome for Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley,” said Gilbert Salinas, executive vice president for the Brownsville Economic Development Council. “All I can say is congratulations to everybody here in the region that has prepped the project throughout this three-and-half-year process, and congratulations to Elon Musk and SpaceX.”

The FAA decision includes the description of the project proposed by the applicant, explanation of why there are no reasonable action alternatives to the proposed project, environmental impacts associated with the proposed action, mitigation measures that SpaceX will be required to implement as a condition of the issuance of the launch licenses and/or experimental permits, which are designed to avoid or minimize environmental harm, and the FAA’s findings and determinations.

According to the Federal Register, SpaceX proposes to build a vertical launch area and control center to support 12 commercial launches per year. The vehicles launched include the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and smaller reusable, suborbital launch vehicles.

In April, SpaceX founder and billionaire Elon Musk indicated that his company would begin launching rockets at Boca Chica Beach if the project clears environmental assessments led by the FAA. Musk made the announcement at a Washington D.C. press conference.

#11 malenfant



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Posted 09 July 2014 - 21:12

..and smaller reusable suborbital launch vehicles.

Do they mean Grasshopper and Dragonfly Test vehicles? Surely those programmes will have wound down by that time. Or perhaps it means returning vehicles -first stages.

#12 OP DocM


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Posted 09 July 2014 - 21:20

Possibly returning first stages, which are suborbital. Maybe something else ;)

#13 OP DocM


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Posted 12 July 2014 - 11:20


Elon Musk's Futuristic Spaceport Is Coming to Texas

Elon Musk’s industrial empire continues it methodical expansion.

This week the Federal Aviation Administration signed off on SpaceX’s plan to build a spaceport in South Texas.

Everyone should be excited about this, because Musk wants to construct the kind of spaceport people are used to seeing in sci-fi movies and take launch technology up a notch. The goal, more or less, will be to create an automated station where machines fuel the rocket, stand it up, and send it off. If all goes according to plan, the spaceport technology would result in a drastic reduction in the time needed to go from launch to launch.

SpaceX has been staging its launches at NASA and military sites in Florida and California. It recently secured sole access to launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During a recent interview, Musk told me that SpaceX felt it could tweak 39A to suit a lot of its needs. The company plans to add automated equipment for tracking its rockets and monitoring safety, which should speed up the launch process. The government currently needs about a day or two to switch its systems over from tracking a rocket from another company to one from SpaceX. “We need to install dedicated equipment for us that has an autonomous safety system that doesn’t depend on someone pushing a button to do the tracking,” Musk says. “You install a set of redundant avionics on the rocket that monitor its position, and if it flies outside of an agreed-upon path, it initiates a destruct sequence.”

The new site in Texas, though, would give SpaceX a clean slate to put its unique spin on a spaceport. Knowing Musk, I believe this would mean an ultrafuturistic design coupled with loads of automation. The space industry could certainly benefit from this type of modernization, since it’s still relying, in most cases, on decades-old sites that were mainly built to send up missiles.
Musk’s ultimate goal is to get to Mars, and he wants to be able to perform several launches a day, so that enough equipment and people could be sent to the planet to sustain life. The Texas site represents the first steps toward perfecting some of the launch technology needed to pull this off.
When you total all this up, it becomes clear that Musk is building an unprecedented industrial megaoperation. Setting up factories in such states as California, Texas, and New York could give Musk some much-needed political levers. His companies have faced fierce resistance from incumbents in the automotive and aerospace industries who have used their political pull to hinder such efforts as Tesla’s attempts to sell cars directly to consumers and SpaceX’s bids to handle launches for the military.