SpaceX to Build Private Spaceport in Texas


Start-up rocket-maker Space Exploration Technologies Corp. has unveiled plans to build a commercial spaceport in Texas.

The company, known as SpaceX and headed by billionaire Elon Musk, said it will build a facility exclusively to launch commercial satellites in Brownsville, a city located on the southernmost tip of the state on the border with Mexico.

“SpaceX is excited to expand our work in Texas with the world’s first commercial launch complex designed specifically for orbital missions,” Musk said in a statement released Monday by the office of Gov. Rick Perry to announce the deal.

The state will contribute more than $15 million to the project, including $13 million from a spaceport trust fund and another $2.3 million from the so-called Texas Enterprise Fund, according to the release. The launch pad will create 300 jobs and generate $85 million in capital investment to the local economy, it states.

“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,” the Republican governor said in the statement.

NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston has long been a hub for America’s human space exploration program, from the early Gemini, Apollo and Skylab projects to today’s International Space Station program. The state was also the site of one of the first privately developed rockets launched into space, the Conestoga 1 in 1982.

SpaceX is based outside Los Angeles in Hawthorne, California, and has more than 3,000 employees, including 250 workers at a rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas.

In addition to commercial business, the company is seeking to break into the military launch market dominated by United Launch Alliance LLC, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co.

SpaceX in April sued the Air Force to open more missions to competitions in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, or EELV, program, which launches medium- and heavy-lift military and spy satellites into space using ULA’s families of Atlas and Delta rockets.

At a time of rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the latter’s invasion and subsequent annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, SpaceX’s lawsuit drew attention to the fact that the U.S. military launch program uses the Russian-made RD-180 engine on the Atlas V rocket.

The Air Force is now looking into building a domestic alternative to the RD-180 propulsion system and has requested to transfer $100 million in funding this year to hold a rocket launch competition earlier than planned.

The fiscal 2014 funding would be used to add to the launch manifest another mission, the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program-20, raising the number of lift-offs to six, according to a copy of the budget reprogramming request.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Ben

    Funny, because wasn’t Texas one of the few states that banned the sale of Teslas? I wouldn’t have have given them the business, but hey, that’s just me.

  • earwig42

    Elon Musk has founded an empire on businesses that are only viable due to government subsidies. The gov’t takes money from the average Joe and launders it through a subsidy so that already wealthy people get thousands of $$$ off on a purchase of a $100,000 car that will be worth nothing when the batteries need to be replaced.

    I don’t think that’s a win for the American taxpayer! Let’s see how much he can wring out of the taxpayers for this new subsidised business.

  • Doug

    Go Space X! Great for Texas and the US!

  • glockman95370

    since this turned into an electric car blog I’ll say this-I wouldn’t even think about buying one until they have one that will go 500 hundred miles on a single charge.manufacters are just lining there pockets with tech is a joke,they are mining as fast as they can,it’s like fracking,ruins the ground water,runoff into rivers poisons them.I’m not a eco freak,but if runoff kills a river an everything else in it,fishing is first to lose.even in Ca. fish have sores on them,but no one does anything about,I even stopped buying a fishing lic.

  • bobbymike

    Great news now we are only a few years from Texas asking SpaceX to make ICBMs so they can have an independent nuclear deterrent. Then ‘don’t mess with Texas’ will have whole new meaning.

  • John Deere

    The headline should read: “SpaceX to Build Private Spaceport in Texas with US taxpayers’ money”…

    SpaceX is funded by NASA and USAF, mostly.

  • “… state will contribute more than $15 million to the project, including $13 million from a spaceport trust fund and another $2.3 million from the so-called Texas Enterprise Fund …” While I am critical of any state subsidies in general, at least this is “peanuts” compared to what the state usually spends on -often dysfunctional- space programs. What intrigues me is that back in the 1970s and early 1980s there already was a private company doing the exact same thing as Elon Musk, the OTRAG or “Orbital-Transport-AG” (orbital transport Inc.), founded by a German inventor and engineer, later doing its research from South Africa, then under sanctions and still apartheid. The company eventually was “sanctioned into oblivion”, also because intelligence services feared the technology might find its hands into the likes as South Africa military which experimented with nuclear warheads and their “partners in crime” Pakistan and North Korea. However, the technology was there a full three decades before Musk came along and NASA might have saved billions had they, like with Nazi Wernher von Braun, instead encouraged that other German too.

  • Dfens

    The ULA gets paid by the US government $1.10 for every $1.00 they spend developing or making any modifications to their rockets. The ULA recognizes that this is an invitation to spend themselves rich and they do just that. They often run into “problems” that require additional government funds to fix and their designs do nothing to contain costs because the more their rockets cost the more money they make.

    SpaceX, on the other hand, funded the design of their rocket from Musk’s own pocket. They designed it and tested it with private funds, not your money. Because it was designed with private funds they had plenty of incentive to keep costs down and problems to a minimum. Because they did not have a guaranteed customer like ULA did with it’s huge Air Force bureaucracy, SpaceX had plenty of incentive to keep vehicle costs low, which is largely why their launch costs are 1/10th of ULA’s.

    There’s spending public money wisely and spending public money stupidly. Throwing more money at ULA is spending our money stupidly.

  • blight_asdf

    I’m unsure how Tesla took over a discussion of SpaceX…

  • David

    If you’re going to do subsidies, this is the way. Maryland taxpayers provided $15 million of “incentives” to have some parts of “House of Cards” filmed in Baltimore, plus $12 million the second season and a similar amount for the 3rd season. So for $15 million, Texas gets a rocket factory, and for almost $40 million Maryland gets Netflix reruns.

    Even worse when you consider Texas has about 7X the population.

  • hibeam

    That wanted to build it in California but it would have annoyed the Spotted Skaank Beetle.

    • Godzilla

      SpaceX already have a launch site in California at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

      The problem is the coastline is facing the wrong direction for an equatorial flight to geostationary orbit.

  • Jo Byden

    If one of Muskox’s toys crashes in Florida on my stuff, I am gonna sue him for 100 Trillion dollars.

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