SpaceX rocket launch

SpaceX aiming to activate its own launch facility by end of 2018

Image credit: Dreamstime

According to reports, SpaceX aims to have its South Texas launch facilities – its first private launch facility – operational in late 2018 or sooner.

James Gleeson, senior communications manager for SpaceX, confirmed in a statement with Teslarati that the company is working towards activating the facility: “We are currently targeting late 2018 for the site in South Texas to be operational, but we’re reviewing our progress and will turn the site online as soon as it’s ready.”

The site, near Boca Chica Beach in Texas, was selected by SpaceX in 2014. Since then, the facility has been under construction. It will be the first launch site owned by SpaceX.

SpaceX currently uses three separate launch facilities which it leases from the US government: at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base and at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, as well as Vandenburg Air Force Base in California.

However, having a launch site of their own will allow SpaceX far greater autonomy over the launches of its partially reusable Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. The South Texas site could also be used as a test launch site for SpaceX’s much-hyped “Big Fucking Robot” (BFR), which was announced by SpaceX founder Elon Musk in November 2017 at the International Astronautical Congress.

The BFR – also known as the “Interplanetary Transport System” – will be fully usable and made from “cannibalised” Falcon rockets. Musk has suggested that the BFR could be used to transport people around Earth, completing any journey without an hour by passing into Earth’s orbit, but also to take people to and from Mars. A test launch could be carried out as early as 2022, with rockets ferrying passengers to Mars by 2024, Musk said.

“If you think about how many launches are needed to ultimately establish a base on Mars, it’s a lot of launches, particularly if you want to make it a self-sustaining base,” Musk said in 2014.

“As we look ahead to the future, that’s one of the things that we thought was very important: to establish an additional launch site and one that was optimised primarily for commercial activity.”

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