News Column

More land investments for SpaceX

June 12, 2014

By Emma Perez-Trevino, Valley Morning Star, Harlingen, Texas



June 12--As the countdown continues towards the Federal Aviation Administration's decision on SpaceX's request for permits to launch rockets from a site in Cameron County, Elon Musk's space exploration firm continues to purchase property at Boca Chica Beach.

The most recent purchases made June 2 come nearly two years to the day when the first purchase of land was made June 6, 2012.

Dogleg Park LLC, on behalf of the California-based Space Exploration Technologies, purchased an additional six lots in Cameron County this month, bringing the total number of lots it owns to 103, comprising about 41 acres of land. This is besides the 56.5 acres that SpaceX has under lease at the location of what would be the world's first private and commercial vertical launch complex.

Through Dogleg, SpaceX now controls approximately 98 acres of land, in ownership and leaseholds combined.

In another development regarding SpaceX's plans to develop the world's first private and commercial vertical launch complex at Boca Chica, Magic Valley Electric Cooperative stands poised to fuel the project.

The FAA's decision on SpaceX's request for permits is expected in early July, which would conclude a 30-day period that is underway to allow federal agencies final consultations to resolve outstanding issues if necessary.

The final environmental impact statement (FEIS), which is positive toward the proposal, was recently released, and following FAA's decision in early July, the next steps would include processing SpaceX's application for the permits and the firm securing other permits required from other agencies.

But SpaceX started the design of the proposed facility more than a year ago, and even has identified potential providers of services, as the FEIS reflects.

"The SpaceX project, to be located in Boca Chica Beach, does fall under Magic Valley's service territory and in the event that the project comes to fruition MVEC would be providing electric service to the facilities," Abraham Quiroga, MVEC's business and employee development manager told the Valley Morning Star Wednesday.

Quiroga did not respond to a question regarding the possible purchases of light poles.

"However, at this point we cannot disclose further details due to the sensitivity of the project," he instead responded.

The FEIS notes that new underground power lines would be installed in the state Highway 4 right-of-way from the control center area to the vertical launch area. In addition, existing power lines that lead to Boca Chica Village would need to be upgraded. During this upgrade, the lines that are currently underground would remain underground, and lines that are currently above ground would remain above ground.

MVEC's service area includes the entire state Hwy 4 corridor between Brownsville and the Boca Chica Village area. Power supply for MVEC is provided by the South Texas Electric Cooperative, the FEIS states.

The FEIS also pointed out that construction of the complex would occur over a 24-month period, and site preparation would include clearing, grading, filling and excavation.

An average of 18 trucks would travel to and from the project site per work day during the 24 months. However, during concrete pours for the facilities, including hangars, the launch pad, the control center buildings and payload processing facilities, up to 60 trucks would transport concrete to the site.

It is pointed out that large amounts of sand and gravel would be needed for the amount of concrete that would be required for the construction. The FEIS states that there are currently numerous suppliers of construction material within the vicinity, including, but not limited to, Samson Sandpit & Materials in Harlingen, Materiales Triple AAA Inc. in Brownsville, P D American Limestone Products in Brownsville, and Cerda Caliche Sand and Gravel in San Benito.

It was also was estimated that 47 workers would be on-site at any one time during the construction , given the final build-out size of the project and the 24-month timeframe.

SpaceX aims to launch the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets and a variety of smaller reusable suborbital vehicles. It has proposed up to 12 launch operations a year, including up to two Falcon Heavy launches, through at least 2025.

The launches would carry experimental or commercial payloads, including satellites. In addition to standard payloads, the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy might also carry a capsule, such as the SpaceX Dragon capsule. All launch trajectories would be to the east over the Gulf of Mexico, according to the FAA.

The site is about 17 miles east-northeast of the Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport and 5 miles south of South Padre Island.

Eperez-trevino@valleystar.com

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(c)2014 Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas)

Visit Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas) at www.valleymorningstar.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, TX)


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