SpaceX buys more land in Cameron County - Valley Morning Star : Local News

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SpaceX buys more land in Cameron County

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Posted: Saturday, November 23, 2013 10:25 pm

SpaceX continues to solidify its presence in Cameron County. If property holdings measure the California-based space exploration firm’s interest in establishing a commercial rocket-launching facility at Boca Chica Beach, a recent purchase increased the likelihood six-fold.

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., through Director of Business Affairs Lauren Dreyer, Senior Manager Todd Ziegler and Dogleg Park LLC, recently increased its land holdings in the Boca Chica Beach area from 12 lots to 72 undeveloped lots at a tax sale on the front steps of the Cameron County Judicial Building in Brownsville, the Valley Morning Star found.

SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment.

Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos continues to be cautiously optimistic that the efforts of the county, Cameron County Space Port Development Corp., Brownsville, its economic development arm, other organizations and local and state officials will pay off.

“We are all going in the same direction and we’re on the same page to make sure we’re selected,” Cascos said.

“From our end, we are doing everything that we need to be doing.”

The developments come in advance of the Federal Aviation Administration’s final environmental impact statement on the site, expected before the end of the year, and SpaceX’s decision on the site.

SpaceX began purchasing property in Cameron County in June 2012, buying three lots of land, the Star first reported.

Now, the combined area that SpaceX has bought encompasses about 24 acres, public records show.

SpaceX also has leased 56.5 acres from private property owners, according to the draft environmental impact statement.

Furthermore, the county secured ownership of eight more lots in the area in a tax sale that could be conveyed by the county to SpaceX through sale or lease.

SpaceX proposes to construct facilities to support the orbital launch of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch rockets that would carry commercial payloads, including satellites or experimental payloads.

The rockets also could carry a capsule, such as the SpaceX Dragon. All launch trajectories would be to the east over the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the FAA’s draft environmental impact statement, or EIS, SpaceX proposes to construct and operate its own exclusive launch site because its manifest is growing. It would allow Space X to perform aerospace operations work, operate an economically-viable site within tight schedules, and expand the commercial space launch industry by meeting its demand for launch site services.

The project site is off State Highway 4, about a quarter-mile from Boca Chica Beach and about 3 miles north of the border with Mexico. It is located about 6.5 miles south of Port Isabel and 18 miles east of Brownsville along the Gulf’s coastline.

The draft EIS noted that the facilities would be constructed in two separate areas: the vertical launch area and the control center area. The vertical launch area is south of Boca Chica Boulevard and abuts the beach.

The proposed control central would be about 2 miles west from the vertical launch area, north of Boca Chica Boulevard, and adjacent to Boca Chica Village. Several investors, including the late John S Caputa of Chicago first developed the community, bringing people of Polish descent.

Most of the roughly 60 undeveloped lots purchased by SpaceX at the recent tax sale had been owned by Caputa’s estate.

According to the Handbook of Texas Online and the draft EIS, Caputa and initial investors first named the community Kennedy Shores for President John F. Kennedy.

Stanley Piotrowicz, who became mayor of the community in 1975, renamed it Kopernik Shores in honor of the Polish astronomer Nikolai Kopernik (Nicolaus Copernicus).

eperez-trevino@valleystar.com

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