US private space exploration company SpaceX has chosen a location to build the third launch site to serve its Falcon 9 rocket.
In an announcement today, the company said it had decided for Boca Chica Beach, on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, on the outskirts of Brownsville, Texas, following a 3-year review of multiple sites in Georgia, California, Alaska, Puerto Rico and Florida.
The company already uses two launch sites – at Vandenburg, California and Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The project has already been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, as part of the federal environmental process and will include building a rocket launch pad, a control command centre and a ground tracking station, all within two miles of each other.
"What a historical moment for the greater Brownsville region and the State of Texas. It's a culmination of a dream and a vision, which began more than three years ago," said Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez.
"We will ensure that SpaceX has everything it needs in order to be successful in the Greater Brownsville Borderplex."
The Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation committed $5m as part of the overall incentives package proposed to SpaceX for the vertical rocket commercial launch site and command centre.
The project promises to bring 500 jobs over ten years to the area and an investment of $80 to $100m. Additional 300 to 400 jobs may be created in the supply chain with suppliers either moving to or expanding in the Brownsville area.
"Our unique geographic location and proximity to both the equator and the Gulf of Mexico, gave Brownsville an advantage over the other locations being considered by SpaceX,” said Jason Hilts, Brownsville Economic Development Council President and CEO.
The new base is a confirmation of SpaceX’s business success and expansion, with many companies previously buying launches on Russia’s Proton rocket recently switching to SpaceX.
On Tuesday, a Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral has delivered to orbit a telecommunication satellite owned by Hong Kong-based AsiaSat.
The first attempt to launch the spacecraft was halted due to technical problems. However, SpaceX technicians managed to resolve the issue in only two and a half hours after having been alerted to a possible problem with the rocket’s first-stage engine.
The spacecraft, AsiaSat8, is the first of two satellites launched for AsiaSat by SpaceX. The telecommunications company used to purchase launches on Russia’s Proton but switched to SpaceX, after having witnessed its successful cargo deliveries to the International Space Station for Nasa.
"We gained confidence in seeing how they were developing technically," said AsiaSat chief executive William Wade.
Although AsiaSat had not used a US launcher since 2003, it was intrigued by SpaceX's competitive pricing. Rides on Falcon 9 were selling for about $54m (£32m) at the time the contract was signed.
SpaceX's website currently shows the price of a Falcon 9 launch as $61.2m.