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back to article SpaceX taps Texas for 'commercial Cape Canaveral' site

More details have emerged about one of the sites that Space Exploration Technologies – better known as SpaceX – is considering for what founder Elon Musk has referred to as "a commercial Cape Canaveral." The site in question is in the southern tip of the state of Texas, just outside Brownsville in Cameron County, overlooking the …

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Silver badge
Stop

Why not just rent the proper Cape Canaveral?

NASA don't seem to be using it much these days...

Three launches planned this year, one of them is a Falcon 9.

No launches showing yet for next year.

EIS already done.

Sorted.

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Facepalm

Re: Why not just rent the proper Cape Canaveral?

Obviously, if one of this year's launches is a SpaceX Falcon 9, didn't you answer your own question?

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Coat

Re: Why not just rent the proper Cape Canaveral?

As the article says, lots of bureaucracy and large blocks of launch dates unavailable due to other launches.

And when you're looking for upcoming launches make sure you check both the NASA Kennedy Space Center [sic] and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The military launches often aren't announced much ahead of time anyway and NASA launches often use Air Force pads.

We definitely need a "Rocket Science" icon...

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Re: Why not just rent the proper Cape Canaveral?

Nasty cynic that I am, I am gonna guess that State of Texas offered a whole big pile of tax incentives, subsidies, and just plain bribes for this facility.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why not just rent the proper Cape Canaveral?

Because the USAF are assholes, and they own the launch range. Even NASA has to go through them for permission and launch slots.

NASA has enough red tape, but the USAF goes "our mission is public safety" and uses it as a big stick. Instead of the usual mantra of "think of the children" they go "think of the public's safety" and use it to justify an absurd range of crap.

This is also not to mention a range tracking system that hasn't been upgraded since the '70s and sometimes takes 2 or 3 days of MANUAL switching around between launches. There's no automation, a bloke personally drives out to each tracking radar and configures some switches and cables.

Pretty much anyone technically competent looks at it all and starts swearing a lot, but they keep their mouth shut because KSC's the only game in town and you can't piss 'em off.

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Bronze badge

Re: Why not just rent the proper Cape Canaveral?

FYI, he STILL will need to clear his launches with USAF, even if he launches them from his front yard. I suspect that he believes that he just can do it for less from Brownsville/McAllen, TX.

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South is good

in the northern hemisphere. As only the southernmost part of Florida is further south than Brownsville, it's a good spot to launch equatorial or low inclination sats. Brazil is better, but probably not for the logistics. Alaska would only be good for polar orbit or other high inclination sats. California is the same. Vandenberg AFB is only used for polar orbit launches, or missile shots towards Kwajalein AFAIK.

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Environmental impact?

Firstly the occasional rocket is unlikely to be a serious competitor to the local international airport for emissions. And secondly, I know I'm no expert but that area really looks like a few hundred miles of feck all in every direction. So long as you're not building on the coastal areas, losing a few square miles of undifferentiated scrubland is not a big deal.

In fact it might even be better for the environment. The large area of swamp closed to the public around Cape Canaveral has become a de-facto nature reserve, simply bcos there's no people stomping around there and shooting stuff.

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Stuff

Environmentally, rockets pad sites are a good thing - very little pollution, and the whole area stays 'au naturelle.' No other development at all. No-one wants a rocket dropping on them.

One problem with Texas is the oil rigs out at sea which need to be evacuated for each laucnh. However, there are not too many on the track, so that's probably OK.

Having this site would be useful for their reusable approach (fly back boosters) - launch at Texas and the second stage can loop round the earth and land back in Canaveral. I think.

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South of the border, down Mexico way

Does the Mexican government or people, 3 miles away, get any say? They'll be getting a lot of the kerosene fumes blowing their way, and the odd off-course disaster.

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Anonymous Coward

Politics

A major reason for this is probably to let KSC & Florida know that they don't have a monopoly. Florida sits on its butt and thinks "but WE have America's Spaceport(tm)" and wonders why Titusville is hemorrhaging jobs.

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Anonymous Coward

Ah, just like Sim City

Stick the missile range in the furthest corner of the map, next to the toxic waste dump and maximum security prison.

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