The Brief: Texas Lands a Commercial Cape Canaveral
The Big Conversation
SpaceX on Monday chose to place the first commercial launch complex on Boca Chica beach near Brownsville. The announcement solidified Texas' leading position in the country's space program even as it transitions to one with greater opportunities for private companies.
"A combination of financial incentives, pro-business climate and favorable geography wooed the California-based company, and its spaceport furthers the ambitions of Texas to become a major player in the 21st century commercial space industry," the Houston Chronicle's Eric Berger wrote. "As Texas seeks to build a nucleus of private space businesses, a SpaceX spaceport should further galvanize interest in the state as a place that is friendly not only to NASA but commercial companies as well."
Calling the new SpaceX facility "the world’s first commercial Cape Canaveral," the Austin American-Statesman's Laylan Copelin wrote, "As federal spending on space has been cut, the private sector has stepped forward, trying to make space commerce both profitable and reliable. ... At Boca Chica, SpaceX will launch rockets for its commercial clients and foreign governments as early as 2016, according to Brownsville officials."
The project is expected to generate hundreds of jobs over the next decade, officials said on Monday. The investment was helped along by government financial incentives and other help. The Texas Enterprise Fund, for instance, is giving SpaceX $2.3 million. Another $13 million will go to a development corporation that is putting in the infrastructure to support the site, Copelin wrote. And the Legislature last year acted to help, introducing changes to the law to allow SpaceX to shut down the beach periodically for launches.
The Day Ahead
• The Legislative Budget Board meets at 11 a.m. in the House Appropriations Committee Room to hear a report from the state comptroller on the state's financial condition. (agenda)
• The House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee meets at 9 a.m. in the Capitol Extension for an update on ongoing border operations as well as to hear testimony on draft legislation on both the Driver Responsibility Program and the storage of ammonium nitrate. (agenda)
• The House Select Committee on Transportation Funding, Expenditures and Finance meets at 1 p.m. in the Capitol Extension to discuss potential sources of revenue. (agenda)
• State Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, hosts a half-day desalination summit in Corpus Christi. (agenda)
• Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis holds an 11 a.m. press conference in Austin at the Travis County coordinated campaign headquarters.
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Quote to Note
"It's clear that competition to attract commercial space companies is hot and getting hotter. It's not rocket science. An attractive financial package, whether it's cash, offsets, tax advantages or something else, carries a lot of weight."
— Michael Lopez-Alegria, a four-time astronaut and president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, on Brownsville successfully wooing SpaceX to South Texas
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