Orbcomm satellite

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has confirmed its plans to build a new commercial vertical rocket launch facility at Boca Chica Beach in the outskirts of Brownsville, Texas, US.

Claimed to be the world’s first of its kind, the proposed facility would launch 12 rockets per year.

SpaceX’s confirmation comes after three years of evaluating sites in Georgia, California, Virginia, Alaska, Puerto Rico and Florida, in addition to several locations within Texas ranging from Cameron County to 90 miles north in the King Ranch area.

The company plans to invest $80m-$100m over a ten year period in the project, which involves three separate components: the rocket launch site, a control command centre and a ground tracking station, with the original launch operation located on a five-acre footprint within the 50-acre site.

Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez said: "What a historical moment for the greater Brownsville region and the State of Texas. It’s the culmination of a dream and a vision, which began more than three years ago.

"The SpaceX launch site will go a long way to help fill the gap between business, higher education and entrepreneurship."

"We will ensure that SpaceX has everything it needs in order to be successful in the Greater Brownsville Borderplex."

Further, SpaceX will receive $2.3m from the Texas Enterprise Fund, as well as $13m from the state’s Spaceport Trust Fund to the Cameron County Spaceport Development for infrastructure development.

Brownsville economic development council president & CEO Jason Hilts said: "The SpaceX launch site will go a long way to help fill the gap between business, higher education and entrepreneurship, which Brownsville needs to strategically and organically grow local talent, which in turn leads to innovation and wealth in the region."

From the new vertical launch facility in Boca Chica, SpaceX plans to ferry its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, which are currently under development.

Image: SpaceX launched Falcon 9 rocked from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in July. Photo: courtesy of Space Exploration Technologies Corp.

Defence Technology