Texas Spaceport In Talks For SpaceX Founder Elon Musk

By Pierre Dumont , Mar 09, 2013 09:46 AM EST
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SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk traveled to Austin, Texas on Friday March 8 and spoke with lawmakers, stating that he may announce this year the placement of a spaceport in Texas. It would be the world's first commercial orbital launch site.

Musk stated that where he places the port depends on which state gives him the best offer. He did not name figures but suggested that offers should be generous. SpaceX is based in California and launches unmanned rockets from Florida. It is interested in expanding, however, and it seems as though Musk may prefer Texas.

"All things being equal, I think it's better to have more than one location and have them be geographically separate," Musk said. "But on the other hand, if the economics are so compelling in Florida, that has to be considered."

Last summer Musk called Texas a "leading candidate" for a spaceport. A decision, however, was never made due to the need for an environmental assessment.

Just two days ago, Texas Rep. Rene Olivera filed legislation temporarily allowing SpaceX to shut off an area of Boca Chica Beach for launches, given the General Land Office's approval. He claims that Texas has pledged $3.2 million in an effort to lure SpaceX to the state.

Musk also plans to speak at the South by Southwest festival on Saturday.

Musk's talks come amid the SpaceX Dragon capsule's third mission to the International Space Station. The space vehicle encountered a problem on March 1 when three of four thruster pods were compromised. The capsule made it safely to the Station, however, delivering 2,300 pounds of cargo.

"Launching rockets is difficult," said NASA administrator Charles Bolden, "and while the team faced some technical challenges after Dragon's separation from the launch vehicle, they called upon their thorough knowledge of their systems to successfully troubleshoot and fully recover all vehicle capabilities."

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