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SpaceX Chooses Texas Site For Private Spaceport 113

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the to-the-moon dept.
AcidPenguin9873 (911493) writes Today, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced that SpaceX has chosen a site at Boca Chica Beach, Texas, as the location where SpaceX will build its rocket launch facility. The Boca Chica site, at the southern tip of Texas near Brownsville and South Padre Island, had been competing with sites in Florida, Georgia, and Puerto Rico, but had been named the frontrunner to land the site by Musk when he testified to the Texas state legislature in 2013. The spaceport will be the first privately-owned vertical rocket launch facility in the world, and will target commercial customers. State and local governments have pledged to provide a total of about $20 million in incentives to attract SpaceX to the site.
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SpaceX Chooses Texas Site For Private Spaceport

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  • by CaptainDork (3678879) on Monday August 04, 2014 @10:35PM (#47604377)

    ... as well. [wikipedia.org]

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Fertilizer is a lot cheaper to replace than bespoke Satellites that can't be repaired and are expected to survive for a minimum of 15 years. Fertilizer lasts for 8 weeks and can be manufactured by any farm.
       
      You're literally comparing bleeding edge space technology to shit.

      • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

        You're literally comparing bleeding edge space technology to shit.

        No, he's comapring bleeding edge technology to Texas.

        Oh......wait...

      • by plopez (54068)

        Fertilizer will feed you. Rockets won't. We have all these plans for space colonies, all of which rely on some sort of manure to feed the colonist. Funny, isn't it.

      • "On April 22, 2014, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board released the preliminary results of its investigation into the explosion. It blamed the disaster on company officials' failure to take basic steps regarding safe storage of the chemicals in its stockpile, as well as inadequate federal, state and local regulations regarding the handling of hazardous materials." (Emphasis by me.) [wikipedia.org]

    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @01:50AM (#47604975) Homepage Journal

      $20M isn't all that much when you're talking about the costs of building a space center. The savings from not having to jump through neverending bureaucratic hoops probably far exceeds $20M.

      And not just monetary savings, but the cost of delays, probably more significantly.

      • He's just making the government pay for the costs of environmental studies and other paperwork they ladel on businesses to begin with.

      • Perry made up, out of whole cloth, a supposed preference among Texans for freedom from regulation over being safe from industrial explosions and other disasters. ”Through their elected officials [people] clearly send the message of their comfort with the amount of oversight,” he told the AP.

        In Texas, we don't need no steenkin regulations [dallasnews.com].

        I'm not anti-Texas, and I think Perry is a wing nut, but businesses love low regulations. It's cheaper to operate, especially when it's a risky, volatile, ventu

    • Did you read the article? OSHA and the EPA are federal organizations

      • OSHA and EPA gotta know about it, first, right?

        Despite West explosion, Rick Perry sticks to his anti-regulatory schtick. [dallasnews.com]

        Spending state money on inspections and regulatory oversight would not have prevented the explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. plant, [Perry] he added. Never mind that the company had stored 540,000 pounds of highly explosive ammonium nitrate on the site without informing residents of the extreme danger and without informing the Department of Homeland Security — as required.

        • by dlt074 (548126)

          the failure of existing regulatory agencies, should not be a call for more regulatory agencies. it should be a call to defund the current ones that are failing at their appointed tasks.

          • Texas, at the state level [nytimes.com], discourages regulation in order to attract businesses. No one is asking for more AGENCIES.

            "Texas has always prided itself on its free-market posture. It is the only state that does not require companies to contribute to workers’ compensation coverage. It boasts the largest city in the country, Houston, with no zoning laws. It does not have a state fire code, and it prohibits smaller counties from having such codes. Some Texas counties even cite the lack of local fire codes a

          • How would reducing their budget help? Half of the ones I know can't do their jobs properly BECAUSE they don't have the necessary funds.
  • by Eravnrekaree (467752) on Monday August 04, 2014 @10:45PM (#47604415)

    For a while i suspected he would choose Puerto Rico for the extra benefit of being a little closer to the equator. How much of a difference in the cost of launching exist between these two locations?

    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Monday August 04, 2014 @11:28PM (#47604567)

      For a while i suspected he would choose Puerto Rico for the extra benefit of being a little closer to the equator. How much of a difference in the cost of launching exist between these two locations?

      The big problem with Puerto Rico is the lack of industrial infrastructure. Nearly every part will need to travel by ship or air freight. The Texas site is five hours by truck from Houston, the fourth largest city in America.

      • by Megane (129182)
        And not much farther by truck from McGregor (near Waco), where they already have a cozy little shack.
    • by gman003 (1693318) on Monday August 04, 2014 @11:55PM (#47604651)

      Not too much - it's one of those exponential curves that's shallow near the equator but steep near the poles.

      Escape velocity is 11,186m/s. The ISS is at 7,650m/s. Keep those numbers in mind for a sense of scale..

      At the equator, you get an extra 465m/s of velocity. At the poles, you get zero.

      Boca Chica Village is at 25N. If I did my trig right, you'll get 420m/s of "free" velocity from a launch there.

      For more comparison, Canaveral (28N) gets 410m/s, Wallops (38N) gets 365m/s, and Baikonur (46N) gets 320m/s of boost.

      San Juan, Puerto Rico, is at 18N, which would get you 440m/s. A 20m/s difference, at the cost of shipping your rockets and payloads across the ocean, and building substantially more infrastructure. The economics does not support building a spaceport there.

      • and building substantially more infrastructure. The economics does not support building a spaceport there.

        And that's even before you figure in the administrative costs of dealing with all the corruption.

      • The big deal isn't the amount of extra orbital velocity you get from the equator, it's the inclination of the resultant orbit - inclination changes *really* cut into your delta-V budget, so if you're launching into an uninclined orbit you really want to be doing it from the equator coz otherwise you have to expend a lot of fuel correcting your inclination.

        • The big deal isn't the amount of extra orbital velocity you get from the equator, it's the inclination of the resultant orbit - inclination changes *really* cut into your delta-V budget, so if you're launching into an uninclined orbit you really want to be doing it from the equator coz otherwise you have to expend a lot of fuel correcting your inclination.

          Partly true-- but orbital inclination changes get easier the higher you go. It's hard to launch into low equatorial orbit from high latitudes... but nobody goes to low equatorial orbit. The higher it is, the more impulse you're putting into simply getting altitude, and the less impulse is needed for plane change.

          If you're launching from the surface, the delta-V for the plane change to get an geosynchronous orbit into the equatorial plane is remarkably small.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @11:25AM (#47606891)

        Not too much - it's one of those exponential curves that's shallow near the equator but steep near the poles.

        Sinusoidal, to be pedantic.

    • The modest benefit of being slightly closer to the equator is far outweighed by the additional logistics cost and complexity.

  • From TFA:

    The spaceport will be the first privately-owned vertical rocket launch facility in the world, and will target commercial customers

    I dunno, but with all of those guns in Texas the word target would make me nervous. They might just think its a big ol' coot shoot...

  • Wikipedia says "With only a few thousand residents, South Padre Island has consistently drawn between 80,000 and 120,000 spring breakers." Is it likely that a Range Safety Officer will recommend against launches during all of the common Spring Break weeks?
    • SPI is north of the launch site and will probably be immune from any potential hazards of a launch. Boca Chica beach however is east of the launch site and will be closed for the day up to and for a while after every launch.

  • by l2718 (514756) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @01:35AM (#47604937)
    These $20M are good for SpaceX, but why are they good to the taxpayers of Texas? This feels like the "incentives" provided to sports teams where somehow the projected benefits to other local businesses never materialize.
    • by Calinous (985536) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @03:49AM (#47605257)

      Over the long term, they hope that the company will pay more than 20 millions back in taxes. And they'll also add local jobs (probably by the hundreds), attract (or supply) highly paid workers, maybe improve tourism in the area and so on.
            They hope that, long term, it will be better for them than if Tesla built the spaceport in a different state.

      • Just so.

        Assume 300 new jobs, paying an average of $50K per annum each. Sales tax + income tax on that will be somewhere north of $1M per year (guesstimating sales tax and income tax based on LA's tax rates - too lazy to look up TX's numbers this AM).

        And that's ignoring other taxes that might apply, tourism dollars (hell, *I* might go there once it's operational), etc.

        • And unlike a sports stadium, this is for a business that actually *makes* things and regularly employs large numbers of people. It's not just going to be a bunch of tourists and rocket fans rushing in for launch for a few hours, buying food and rocket hats from the launch facility, then going home.

          First off they're going to be needing a permanent staff for operations, including locals for things like maintenance, cleaning, phone services, construction, and similar jobs that don't make sense to bring a speci

        • i'm sure they are hoping to make TX a hub for the private space industry once the workers and infrastructure is in place. it's not just about this one deal.

        • Texas's income tax rate is 0. Their sales tax rate however is 6.25 to the state and up to 2 percent more for the city and county (just about everywhere in the state charges around 8.25 percent).
    • by symbolset (646467) *
      A spaceport is a long-term big business that will attract all sorts of revenue and jobs. Probably for 50 years or more. They are also not the sort of thing you can fold up overnight and move to Mexico. Texas will get their investment back.
      • by Calinous (985536)

        Nokia closed a factory in Germany to move it to Romania, and then closed it in Romania (maybe to move it somewhere else). They're now closing factories in Hungary and Turkey (I think), the one in Germany and Romania after about five years of operations.
              So yes, factories can move. Some of them even before their preferential status expire.

        • by Fjandr (66656)

          A spaceport isn't a factory, and there are huge hurdles to building one. The analogy to factories doesn't really apply.

  • If I'm not mistaken, this is the third place SpaceX is going to be building lots of infrastructure at. What advantage could this site possibly have over Cape Canaveral?

    • by PPH (736903)

      Access to cheap construction labor?

    • What advantage could this site possibly have over Cape Canaveral?

      1) don't have to worry about launch schedule conflicts when you're the only people launching at the site. Do remember the number of delays that SpaceX (and everyone else) has to deal with at Canaveral - you have a minor glitch, scrub your scheduled launch, spend two days fixing if, then have to wait weeks to launch again because someone else is launching in the meantime.

      2) Much lower probability of the government deciding it needs your lau

      • by Megane (129182)
        3) Better weather: less rainy days, less tropical storms. That's the other major cause of delays at Canaveral.
      • What advantage could this site possibly have over Cape Canaveral?

        Let's not forget that SpaceX intends to reuse their first stage. While the Falcon 9 is being built to be able to return to its own launch pad, the fuel reserve necessarily reduces payload capacity. Launching from south Texas allows for an alternative. Instead of returning to its own pad, the first stage could land at Canaveral. This has been the general idea for some time now. It recovers some of the lost payload capacity by allowing an easier landing. Being at nearly the same latitude makes the proce

        • by wagnerrp (1305589)
          Florida is a good thousand miles away from the Texas launch facility. It would take more fuel to continue downrange and land in Florida than it would to turn back and land in Texas. Florida might be a good landing site for a recoverable Falcon Heavy center stage, but they're likely only around 100mi down range by first stage cutoff.
          • Florida is a good thousand miles away from the Texas launch facility. It would take more fuel to continue downrange and land in Florida than it would to turn back and land in Texas. Florida might be a good landing site for a recoverable Falcon Heavy center stage, but they're likely only around 100mi down range by first stage cutoff.

            I'm just quoting SpaceX's own statements. One supposes it's pretty cheap to just fall downrange, when you're that high and going that fast. I suspect they've done the math. I suspect you haven't.

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Cape Canaveral has lots of delays due to millitary launches (Which always have precedence) and perhaps more importantly, thunderstorms 6/7 afternoons a week. You can't launch in a thunderstorm.
       
      Thunderstorms exist in Texas, but in Brownsville, are rare in comparison to Florida. Having absolute control over the launch facility and launch schedule is Very Important.

  • I want to see the Horizontal launch facilities. :)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    With regards to the flyout path and where and how to land the boosters:

    The ocean is pretty neat in that you can put a barge or oil platform where you need it.
    Waves won't give you a stable thing to approach, but perhaps really big a 6DOF table on the barge will.

    This might permit flying the tail into a stablized ring with holding clamps to grab the launch hold down hard points.
    The hard points would now do double duty so there may be a better compromise design for how they work.
    T

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