SpaceX lobbies Texas government for spaceport backing

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The competition heats up: In testimony today before the Texas legislature, a SpaceX official called for more government funding to support the company’s spaceport construction in Boca Chica near Brownsville, Texas.

At a recent joint legislative committee hearing held at UT-Rio Grande Valley in Brownsville, Caryn Schenewerk, senior counsel and director of governmental affairs for SpaceX, pointed out that zero dollars were appropriated to the Texas Spaceport Trust Fund during last year’s legislative session. In contrast, Schenewerk said, Florida commits $20 million a year to its spaceport infrastructure fund.

“One of the things I want to highlight for you is that unfortunately, the spaceport trust fund was not funded in the 84th Legislature and we will certainly be advocating for it to be considered by the 85th and for it to be part of the budget in the 85th Legislature,” Schenewerk testified. “By contrast, Florida consistently funds its space infrastructure fund to a tune of $20 million a year. Those infrastructure matching grants go to exactly the kind of activities that we are undertaking at Boca Chica. They are public-private partnerships for investing specifically in what is so costly an undertaking, the infrastructure.”

Obviously, SpaceX’s spaceport is going to require an increased financial commitment by the state government to build and maintain the increased infrastructure that such large operations require. At the same time, SpaceX doesn’t need a handout. They shouldn’t expect the taxpayers to pay for their private spaceport.

The article does provide some updated information about the spaceport’s construction status. It looks like they are aiming for a 2018 launch date.


  • David M. Cook

    If I were a Texas native, I would demand this support! Just think, in few hundred years the human story will be describing how we left Earth from Texas & populated the entire solar system. How does that sound to ya’all? Is that a big enough story for Texans to tell?

  • wayne

    Apparently, everything is bigger, in Texas!
    – “Texas Enterprise Fund,” is a $19 billion State “Fund” that “invests” in “public-private partnerships.” (Michigan does similar crazy stuff, so not picking on Texas alone.)

    Have to go with Mr. Z on this one.
    Although I like Space & can’t argue with the success SpaceX has achieved, it’s corporate-welfare to build their infrastructure. The “government affairs” director is just playing Florida against Texas. (And it’s sad when SpaceX or any Company, has to have a person devoted to “governmental-affairs.”)

  • Edward

    I was recently reminded that whatever you subsidize you get more of. Is it worth government subsidizing industry in order to get more of it? Don’t we just get government choosing winners and losers? Do some of those winners eventually lose, as Solyndra did?

  • Dick Eagleson

    What SpaceX is asking for seems to be increased water delivery capacity and road improvements. These are both “services” many governments regard as natural monopolies and their exclusive jurisdiction. It seems entirely reasonable to ask government to actually do what it has taken to be its exclusive job.

  • Dave G

    It sounds like SpaceX is asking for the money they were promised when they were making the decision to locate there.

  • wayne

    Dick E. & Dave G.;
    Fully understand your views & not completely unsympathetic with that approach.
    [I personally support private Space & a degree of Public Space, and would pay more taxes if I was asked & rational plans were proposed.]
    >If it was just putting up a few traffic-signals, extending the water-main/sewer-system, putting in that left-turn lane in front of the spaceport, adding a few street-lights, laying some sidewalks, etc., it would still be a degree of cronyism.
    -It may or may not be within the realm of government but that’s a huge ball-o-yarn in itself. (I’m not a complete purist as far as Libertarian Thought, and accept that roads & certain infrastructure projects are well within that realm, assuming the local people acquiesce via local/state representation in advance.
    -If the people in that County where the spaceport is located, want to pay more taxes specifically for the spaceport, I have no problem with that. And if the people of Texas want to do so, collectively, they do have that option.
    My only real point, and it is hair-splitting to a measure, is that “this sorta stuff” is, as Edward notes, subsidizing-stuff, and although I am sympathetic, this is exactly the slippery-slope we fell into 100 years ago, and it only gets more pervasive.
    We crossed a line & can now completely rationalize spending for stuff, whether we actually have the cash-on-hand or not, or if it’s a “good idea” or not.

    I have no clue exactly who promised what, to SpaceX, and if they were guaranteed certain things, Texas needs to follow-through.
    We do a huge amount of this type of thing in Michigan and it’s not as efficient or rational as it might seem on it’s face.

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