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.
Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors, has been fighting with the Air Force to try to break into the market for military satellite launches, which is dominated by United Launch Alliance, a Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture. SpaceX has successfully ferried cargo for NASA to the International Space Station and maintains that it has been unfairly locked out of the bidding process for Pentagon launches.
In other SpaceX news, the company launched a television satellite into orbit early on Tuesday. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket delivered a commercial broadcast satellite for Asia Satellite Telecommunications of Hong Kong into orbit about 30 minutes after its launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla.