Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space

SpaceX Is Studying Site For 'Commercial Cape Canaveral' Near Brownsville, Texas 69

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-that's-in-texas dept.
New submitter RealTime writes "SpaceX filed a notice with the FAA (PDF) that it is preparing an environmental impact study in consideration of a site in Texas for use as a commercial spaceport. 'The site in question is in the southern tip of the state of Texas, just outside Brownsville in Cameron County, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, over which SpaceX's launches would fly.' The proposed site would handle up to 12 commercial launches per year. 'There's plenty of red tape associated with Kennedy Space Center, and the center is often reserved for large blocks of time by other launchers. If SpaceX had its own pad, it wouldn't have to share.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

SpaceX Is Studying Site For 'Commercial Cape Canaveral' Near Brownsville, Texas

Comments Filter:
  • Politics (Score:4, Funny)

    by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @02:39AM (#39641281)

    Hopefully, this may get Texas' congressmen to abandon their opposition to NASA's commercial space initiatives.

    • by ArcherB (796902)

      Hopefully, this may get Texas' congressmen to abandon their opposition to NASA's commercial space initiatives.

      Since when have Texas congresspeople opposed anything NASA?

      • This may be a reference to Texas legislators pushing for more Texas NASA dollars. They don't directly oppose privatization, but they do talk about it dismissively in their quest for pork [chron.com].

        Obama’s “reliance on a promising, yet still fledgling commercial space industry” combined with retiring the space shuttle and canceling the back-to-the-moon Constellation “will severely diminish the manned space flight program and provide the JSC with no true mission objective,” the lawmakers cautioned.

      • Re:Politics (Score:4, Interesting)

        by WindBourne (631190) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @09:49AM (#39643413) Journal
        In fact, it is many of the neo-cons that are hard at work at opposing private space. That includes the likes of Hutcinson(R-TX) [dallasnews.com], Croyn(R-TX), Shelby(R), Wolfe(R), Hatch(R), Coffman(R), etc.. The new round of republicans are torn on this, but the older neo-cons within the republican party are working hard to kill off private space. The reason is that neo-cons currently control the pubs, but also many of them are from areas that represent Boeing, ULA, ATK, L-Mart, Grummun, etc. In fact, it was the republican controlled house that gutted private space funding, but the dem controlled senate restored part of it. The dems wanted it all restored, but the senate pubs (esp. those above) fought against it.
  • While Elon Musk is certainly one to stay in the limelight more than some of the other rocket builders, it seems like Jeff Bezos either was looking at or purchased land in the general region of Texas. Yes, I know Bezos has his test facility in west Texas, which is also licensed by the FAA-AST as a spaceport, so perhaps I'm mistaken.

    If it wasn't Bezos, it seems like it was another group of commercial rocket developers. Benson Space Company perhaps?

    Regardless, I would have to agree that some place other than KSC is going to be needed if SpaceX has anything close to the launch rates that Elon Musk is promising. While SpaceX doesn't need to compete against Shuttle launches any more, there still are all of the D.O.D. payloads that usually get higher priority over commercial flights. KSC can be a rather busy place from time to time.

    • bezos also patented landing the 1st stage of a rocket on a barge. I guess he figures it would be cheaper than rustproofing and marine recovery. Although one wonders whether something so simple should be patentable... seems quite obvious if you want to avoid fishing your spent stage out of the sea.
    • I suspect that you are mistaken about Bezo buying land. It was theorized in various places that the land being investigated was either musk or bezo, but this would appear to be it. Personally, I am surprised that Musk is not working with Bezo on this.
  • by AlienMike (1339501) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @03:37AM (#39641453)
    I think this article misses the point. It has nothing to do with launch schedules at the Cape or politics. This has everything to do with recovering the first stage. Look at a map. He has to launch and recover in U.S. territory in order to to comply with U.S. arms export regulations. If this is true, pickup of the first stage in Florida is not much of an option. But Puerto Rico is perfectly position for a powered landing of the first stage when doing an equatorial launch from the Brownsville Texas area.

    I predict the next announcement will be a landing site in Puerto Rico for recovery of the first stage. My question is, does he even need permission to land in Puerto Rico? Can't he just get permission to land at an airfield? We aren't talking about a launch, just a powered landing. I'm sure there would be regulatory hurdles, but nothing like that needed to build a launch site.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I would guess that the answer is no for landing at an airfield. They are going to need a fair amount of infrastructure to get a reusable first stage back to its launch site again. Not a vast amount, but enough that you might as well build it on fresh ground rather than trying to argue with airport authorities and cramming it in with all their stuff.

      I will note that I have very serious doubts about their ability to get a fully reusable launcher on their current path, because the engineering difficulties in t

  • Less Mickey Mouse, and more cheap industrial labor. Sounds like "all systems go" economically.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Their biggest risk isn't economic, but technical. Don't forget that they've had only two successful flights with the Falcon 9, and the now abandoned Falcon 1 (development stopped due to lack of interest from the market) had far more failed flights than successes.

      It is true that their most recent flights have had a better success rate than their early failures, and nobody should dismiss them because some test flights blew up, but don't underestimate how important reliability is in the launch market.

      A failed

      • Actually, F1E was stopped to focus on F9, FH, and Dragon. Unlike companies like Boeing, ATK, ULA, L-Mart, etc, SpaceX has limited money. They HAVE to make things work on fixed budgets.

        However, you are correct in your last paragraph.
  • by FairAndHateful (2522378) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @06:33AM (#39642047)

    There's the obvious low latitude (for the US) advantage to this location, but I see other advantages. Texas is relatively centrally located in the US, especially compared to Florida. This, and if they need any internationally sourced parts, their stated choice of location is relatively close to Houston, and Houston has plenty of infrastructure in place for getting stuff moved off of ships and onto rail. Houston already has a big shipping port.

    For latitude, Florida always seemed like a great option, but for shipping parts and materials, it seemed like a very inefficient choice.

    • by trout007 (975317)

      Florida had Port Canaveral which is a large port. Also you have direct barge access to most of the launch sites. That's how the External Tank got from Louisiana to Kennedy Space Center.

      • I was told once that the original design for the Shuttle's SRBs did not call for segmentation. It was supposed to be on once piece shipped by boat. But because the manufacturing for contracted elsewhere for political reasons, it required a redesign of the SRBs to be segmented for cargo rail placement.

        • I was told once that the original design for the Shuttle's SRBs did not call for segmentation. It was supposed to be on once piece shipped by boat. But because the manufacturing for contracted elsewhere for political reasons, it required a redesign of the SRBs to be segmented for cargo rail placement.

          That's true [astronautix.com] (not even a boat needed, probably - just built more or less on site).
          There was however no way to ship single-body SRBs from Utah.

    • Unlike OSC, SpaceX does not make heavy use of other nation's parts. He is making his locally. So, going with internationally source is not a big deal.
    • There's the obvious low latitude (for the US) advantage to this location, but I see other advantages. Texas is relatively centrally located in the US, especially compared to Florida. This, and if they need any internationally sourced parts, their stated choice of location is relatively close to Houston, and Houston has plenty of infrastructure in place for getting stuff moved off of ships and onto rail. Houston already has a big shipping port.

      While the *state* of Texas is (more-or-less) centrally located -

      • by khallow (566160)

        Nor is it "relatively" close to Houston in any useful sense of the term - it's 300 miles away.

        And? I'd call it close in an absolute sense not a relative sense. The closest similar industrial center to JFK Space Center is Atlanta at about 450 miles. Both locations are well connected to the industrial base of the US.

        It's also worth noting that Brownsville is a significant trade hub with Mexico and a sea port. There are slight pros and cons to each from their access to the transportation systems,but the big differences come from the actual launch scenarios for these locations.

        • Nor is it "relatively" close to Houston in any useful sense of the term - it's 300 miles away.

          And? I'd call it close in an absolute sense not a relative sense. The closest similar industrial center to JFK Space Center is Atlanta at about 450 miles. Both locations are well connected to the industrial base of the US.

          Since industrial base wasn't a point discussed in either the original post, or my reply, or a big issue in the original site selection [for Cape Canaveral] - I'm not sure what your point is.

          • Since industrial base wasn't a point discussed in either the original post, or my reply, or a big issue in the original site selection [for Cape Canaveral] - I'm not sure what your point is.

            Industrial base was implied when I started discussing parts. And when you started discussing mining.

            Honestly, what I was thinking about was pretty much around how so much of the shuttle was built from all over the place. That might be due to pork barrel, and that might not be as much of a problem for SpaceX, but for NASA, or anything else funded by the government, it's likely to come up. California is a huge producer/manufacturer in the US, and it's about as far from Florida as you can be, without involv

            • Since industrial base wasn't a point discussed in either the original post, or my reply, or a big issue in the original site selection [for Cape Canaveral] - I'm not sure what your point is.

              Industrial base was implied when I started discussing parts. And when you started discussing mining.

              If you meant apples, why mention oranges? One doesn't even remotely imply the other. Not to mention, if you read the context, you'd note that I (barely) mentioned mining so that you'd understand that Florida was far bett

              • Since industrial base wasn't a point discussed in either the original post, or my reply, or a big issue in the original site selection [for Cape Canaveral] - I'm not sure what your point is.

                Industrial base was implied when I started discussing parts. And when you started discussing mining.

                If you meant apples, why mention oranges? One doesn't even remotely imply the other. Not to mention, if you read the context, you'd note that I (barely) mentioned mining so that you'd understand that Florida was far better connected than you seemed to think - and why.

                Honestly, I'm still wondering why you think "parts" doesn't tie in to "manufacturing". As for mining, you're actually trying to say that "apples" and "applesauce" aren't connected.

  • by mbone (558574) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @08:08AM (#39642461)

    If you look at the map (actually, a globe is easier for this), the minimum energy trajectory from Brownsville takes you through the Straits of Florida, and directly over the Bahamas, which would be a natural location to recover the first stage. (Anyone with the slightest knowledge of spacecraft dynamics knows that their video, which shows the first stage returning to Cape Canaveral, is disinformation. The first stage will be recovered downrange.)

    That trajectory would avoid any inhabited land before the Bahamas, passing South of Miami and North of Havana, and could probably get FAA approval.

    The Bahamas are not on the list of ITAR restricted countries [stanford.edu] and there are ~ 58 airstrips [wikipedia.org] there, including 3 closed ones, so SpaceX could presumably find somewhere suitable to land the first stage.

    Another poster suggested Puerto Rico, which is unlikely as it would require both more energy and (worse) an overflight of Cuba. Soon after the revolution, an errant Atlas missile (launched from Cape Canaveral) landed in Cuba and killed a few cows. The Cuban government was, shall we say, unappreciative, and since then no missile trajectories have been permitted over Cuba. I don't see the FAA / Department of State making an exception for Space X, and I don't think ITAR regulations make it necessary.

    • I thought SpaceX was building a launch pad on a Pacific island (Kwaj or something). The location was close to the equator for efficient low inclination orbits, and had polar orbit launch corridors as well.
      • by mbone (558574)

        They have a launch pad in Kwajalein, and I have talked to Elon Musk about it. It is too far from the US (or anywhere else) and has too many security restrictions to be a good commercial spaceport.

  • by retech (1228598) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @08:58AM (#39642837)
    I hope something like this will bring enough attention to the area to start cleaning it up. Outside of the US I've never heard or seen so much violence, yet no one talks about it.

    I lived in Brownsville a very short time. It's akin to living in my home town (Detroit) but with more bullets, less police and a complete media blackout. The Bush family has a home in the wealthy section of the subdivision so I suspect this has something to do with it. But I found it weird that grenade bombing of buildings in MX less than 1000ft from the border never hit the news. One spring when Brownsville campus of UofT had to be closed since the bullets from across the river were hitting cars and the classrooms the newspaper never ran an article on it. A few miles down the road duffel bags with human heads were found. National news never once said a word. The entire border seems to draw a dead zone of actual media events. The federal money that's pumped into Brownsville is staggering. Yet the crime is off the charts. I honestly found Detroit a less threatening and dangerous place to live.
    • by eln (21727)
      If we start reporting on how the violence in Mexico is impacting the United States, then people might want to actually do something about it, and we can't have that.
      • Absolutely not. Because they're a new voting bloc. Must never piss off potential voters that hold so much power at swinging elections. Right. Right???

        BTW, I still get carded for beer. It's a requirement you know.

    • by dietsip (723998)
      Remember if it doesn't happen on one of the coasts, it doesn't really matter to the mainstream media.
    • by PMW (203329)

      Mexican drug cartels regularly threaten & kill reporters who talk about cartel violence. That's why you don't here much about it:

      http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/15/world/americas/mexico-journalist/index.html
      http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/16/world/la-fg-mexico-narco-censorship-20100816
      http://www.npr.org/2011/09/23/140745739/mexican-drug-cartels-now-menace-social-media
      http://www.chicagonow.com/chicanisima-latino-politics-news-and-culture/2011/09/mexican-journalist-killed-for-using-social-media/
      http://www

    • by jafac (1449)

      The federal money that's pumped into Brownsville is staggering. Yet the crime is off the charts.

      These two factors may not be inversely related, but instead, may be directly related.

      The Bush family has a home in the wealthy section of the subdivision so I suspect this has something to do with it.

      I concur.

      A few miles down the road duffel bags with human heads were found. National news never once said a word.

      Not a word like "Iran-Contra" or "CIA" or "drug-smuggling". None of those words, I am certain. How thi

Neckties strangle clear thinking. -- Lin Yutang

Working...