"Brownsville, we have liftoff." That's the line that may be coming from a SpaceX command center in South Texas soon, as the company reportedly prepares to dump Florida for the Lone Star State for its launches.
Florida TV station Bay News 9 reports that SpaceX, Elon Musk's commercial space transport company, is close to announcing a new commercial launch complex in Brownsville. Last week the company cleared a Federal Aviation Administration environmental review at Boca Chica Beach near the Mexican border, leaving it up to Musk to decide where the company will relocate its launch endeavors.
The Monitor says that if SpaceX and other companies do their launches from Texas, the only thing they'll have to worry about is FAA regulations, not NASA or Air Force-related missions at the current launch site at Cape Canaveral.
Dale Ketcham, the director of strategic alliances for Florida's space-related economic development agency, didn't mince words on what a huge loss this would be to the Sunshine State's near-monopoly on space launches:
"It is naïve for us to assume the loss of SpaceX commercial activity to Texas is not a significant blow to our plans and our future," Ketcham said. "It is. And our job is to be aggressive as possible seeing to it that more of that work doesn't leave and next year, somebody is announcing they're going to Georgia."
Musk wants the planned 56 acre site 20 miles east of Brownsville to launch about a dozen rockets a year. Eventually officials in Texas hope that SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy rockets will be built in the state as well instead of in California. In short, Brownsville is well on its way to hosting a major commercial spaceport.
Now we just have to wait for Musk himself to announce it. It sounds like that's probably coming soon. Sorry, Florida.