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SpaceX owner wants launch pad in Brownsville

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Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 12:00 am

BROWNSVILLE — SpaceX founder Elon Musk wants to build a satellite launch pad near Brownsville.

The multimillionaire made the comment Wednesday in McGregor when he visited SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft at the company’s rocket factory there, the Associated Press reported.

Musk said he was to meet with Gov. Rick Perry to discuss incentives and other issues.

Keith Graf, director of aerospace and aviation for the governor’s office, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. In a message from his Twitter account, Perry tweeted “Great meeting with Space X’s @elonmusk - a true space pioneer!”

Cameron County is one of three sites being considered by SpaceX, or Space Exploration Technologies, for a new launch site. Musk said the site near Brownsville is the leading candidate.

Musk said other launch sites under consideration — in Florida and Puerto Rico — had made stronger cases than Texas, “but that may be changing.”

Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said the meeting went well. Perry and Musk discussed Texas’ interest in the project and commitment to working with SpaceX to find a good location for the spaceport in the state, Nashed said.

“Locating this new facility in Texas would be a natural fit,” Nashed said in a statement.

South Texas leaders have been working with SpaceX for more than a year to get the company to build a launch pad near Boca Chica Beach. Officials have said the company could bring 600 direct jobs to area with minimum annual salaries of $55,000.

Cameron County Judge Carlos H. Cascos said Wednesday he had not been told of Musk’s comments but said officials will do what they can to make the project work.

“Until they give us some formal notification, there is not a whole lot of things that we can do in terms of cash money, but I don’t think that is going to be the problem. I think we can offer things such as infrastructure,” Cascos said. “We will do what we can reasonably do to make this a workable and viable project for South Texas.”

The site under consideration is at the eastern end of State Highway 4, about 3 miles north of the Mexican border. It is about 5 miles south of Port Isabel and South Padre Island.

Cascos said he met with Perry about three weeks ago and the governor inquired about the status of the SpaceX project.

“He is very, very supportive of this project,” Cascos said of the governor. “I trust that he will do, and the state of Texas will do, everything they can make this project come to fruition.”

Although many around the state appear to embrace SpaceX coming to South Texas, at least one environmental group has started an online petition against a launch pad near Boca Chica Beach. Environment Texas says rocket launches would endanger wildlife in the area.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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