Elon Musk, CEO and chief designer for Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, said he wants the company’s new commercial orbital rocket launch site at Boca Chica beach to be operational as soon as possible.
That means the paved launch site near the end of U.S. Highway 4 at Boca Chica should be complete in about nine months, with the first rocket launch taking place as early as late 2016. The Boca Chica site will be the world’s first commercial orbital space port.
SpaceX is headquartered in Hawthorne, Calif., and has a rocket engine development facility in McGregor, Texas.
Musk was on hand for Monday’s official groundbreaking along with Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D, Brownsville, Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, County Judge Carlos H. Cascos, Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez, University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, former UT-Brownsville President Juliet V. Garcia and many other local officials, community leaders and stakeholders.
The waves on Boca Chica beach were clearly visible from the tent set up for the event, as rain from dark cumulus clouds fell in the distance. U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D- Brownsville, who introduced Musk and Perry, predicted that the “benefit from an educational and economic standpoint that SpaceX will bring to this region is something that many of us never dreamed of.” Perry, recognizing Cascos, Lucio and Oliveira, reflected on the “30 years we’ve worked together.” “Over the course of the last 13, almost 14 years, we have looked for major projects of which we can make a really big impact on South Texas,” Perry said. “I noticed the sign behind me that says ‘pavement ends in 1,000 feet.’ But the future of South Texas takes off right behind me. And that’s what today’s really all about.”
Musk said SpaceX, which recently won a contract with NASA to ferry astronauts into space in a joint partnership with Boeing, would continue the use of Cape Canaveral, Cape Kennedy and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, but that a launch pad primarily dedicated to commercial spaceflight is necessary — thus Boca Chica.