Space tourism firm buying land in South Texas

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Associated Press

Posted on September 23, 2012 at 2:53 PM

South Texas spaceport?

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BROWNSVILLE (AP) — SpaceX is buying land in South Texas where the space tourism company is considering building a rocket launch facility, ramping up speculation that the company has chosen Texas over Florida and Puerto Rico for the project's home, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The Brownsville Herald found that SpaceX purchased at least three lots in Cameron County under the name Dogleg Park LLC. Property records show the owner's address is listed as SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. The company did not respond to the newspaper's requests to comment on the land purchases.

Brownsville officials emphasized that the purchases do not mean that SpaceX has made a decision.

"But it is a good sign," said Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos, the county's top elected official.

In June, SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk said the site near Brownsville was the leading candidate to become home to the company's latest spaceport. He has met with Gov. Rick Perry to discuss economic incentives to put a launch site for the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy orbital vertical launch vehicles in Texas. It would also have a control center that could support up to 12 commercial launches a year.

The location would be about three miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border and about five miles south of South Padre Island.

According to property records found by the Herald, SpaceX purchased a half-acre lot in June for $2,500. The other two purchases were made at auctions earlier this month on the steps of the county's judicial building, where records show that SpaceX's director of business affairs bought one lot for $6,400 and another for $15,000.

The Federal Aviation Administration is conducting an environmental impact statement on SpaceX's proposal near Brownsville. The company already operates a rocket factory near Waco.

Formally named Space Exploration Technologies Corp., SpaceX is the first private business to send a cargo ship to the International Space Station. NASA has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in seed money to vying commercial spaceflight companies such as SpaceX, which are seen as the future of routine orbital flights.

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