SpaceX leases several large facilities in Brownsville, Texas

Capitalism in space: In a clear sign that SpaceX plans to expand its Starship/Superheavy operations in Boca Chica, Texas, it has now leased several large facilities in nearby Brownsville.

Earlier this month, the company signed leases with the Brownsville South Padre Island Airport (BRO) for 46,000 square feet of warehouse space and a neighboring private industrial park owned by PacVentures for 60,000 square feet of warehouse space. Francisco Partida, the airport’s special projects manager, said talks with SpaceX about leasing the former Taylorcraft building at 2100 Les Mauldin Road began in mid-July.

The company was looking for 100,000 square feet of warehouse, which the airport couldn’t supply, though SpaceX found the additional square footage it needed in the privately owned industrial park at 1900 Billy Mitchell Blvd., he said.

SpaceX has also committed about a half million dollars to repairing and refurbishing the airport warehouse.

Musk donates more big money to revitalizing downtown Brownsville

It appears that a charitable foundation established by Elon Musk has recently decided to up its donations to the Brownsville Community Improvements Corporation by an extra $1 million, the money aimed at helping to revitalized the downtown of Brownsville, the nearest large city to SpaceX’s Boca Chica spaceport.

The donation was revealed during remarks by Josh Mejia, executive director of the Brownsville Community Improvements Corporation, during a Brownsville developers luncheon .

In his remarks, Mejia, pictured above, gave an update on the e-Bridge Center and other quality of life improvements coming to Brownsville. But, he received the biggest applause when he mentioned inward investment by Elon Musk. “I was texting back and forth with my board members and about 45 minutes ago I receive an email from the Musk Foundation. It is like perfect timing. It is like they know we are here. Well, they just mentioned they donated another million (dollars) towards this program. So, now we have $2 million,” Mejia said. The audience cheered.

This donation is all part of the modern game that requires big business enterprises to make payoffs to local and national politicians and “community activists.” Both Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos know this, and are playing the game to hilt. Both know that the politicians and “community activists” have been telling them, “Nice business you got here, shame if something happened to it.” Bezos responded by donating big to DC’s Air & Space museum, while spreading the wealth to many space advocacy groups.

Musk is instead focusing his payoffs to the local community, where it might do the most good for both him and the locals that his business affects. This donation is not the first he has made to Boca Chica, Brownsville, and south Texas. His foundation has also donated $20 million to the county schools, and another $8 million for other downtown Brownsville projects. The results, obviously helped by the business SpaceX is also bringing to the town, have been noticeable.

In the months since Musk pledged his $10 million, at least 10 downtown properties have gone under contract with interested buyers, said real estate broker Bob Torres Jr. Buildings that used to lease for 25 cents a square foot are now leasing for $1 to $1.50 per square foot.

Home prices have increased nationwide due to the pandemic and low inventory. In Brownsville, this trend has been exacerbated by SpaceX. “People are buying houses sight unseen from Washington state, Portland, Oregon,” Torres said. “They’re going above the asking price, which hardly ever happens.” Real estate broker Bruno Zavaleta III had a client drive from Atlanta and buy three houses.

According to the Brownsville/South Padre Island Board of Realtors, the median price for a home in Brownsville was $212,900 in June, up 47 percent from June 2020. To help with inventory, Esperanza Homes is building 675 houses in northern Brownsville. It will develop this master-planned community over the next six to eight years with a nonprofit community housing development organization called “come dream. come build.”

This pumping of donations by Musk to the local community however will not sell well with the mafia in Washington. The money isn’t going to them, and bullies don’t like that, even if the money is really doing good. Bezos understands this. It doesn’t really matter if the money he donates accomplishes anything real. What matters is that he has paid off the thugs who could make big trouble for him in the future.

Right now it is unclear who’s strategy will work best for protecting each company’s interests. Much will hinge on what each company actually accomplishes in the next few years. SpaceX is clearly ahead in this area, but Blue Origin can certainly catch up.

Hat tip Robert Pratt of Pratt on Texas.

Elton John – Rocket Man

An evening pause: Hat tip Sayomara. This pause is slightly different, and is really two-for-one. The background music is Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” but the visuals are of SpaceX’s future spaceport site at Boca Chica beach near Brownsville, Texas. Apparently someone used a drone to fly over the site and videotaped it. As Sayomara noted, this “shows how far away this site is from being usable.”

SpaceX lobbies Texas government for spaceport backing

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.

Construction at SpaceX’s new spaceport about to begin

The competition heats up: SpaceX has begun prepping the construction sites at its private spaceport in Brownsville, Texas.

The county has begun work on a road to where the spaceport command center will be, and SpaceX has established its construction headquarters in a double-wide trailer there. It is expected that actual construction of the command center will begin in August, with the launchpad construction to follow.

The expected cost for building the entire spaceport: $100 million. Compare that to the billions the Russians are spending for Vostochny, or the billions that NASA spends on comparable facilities.

A new water supplier for SpaceX’s Texas spaceport.

A new water supplier has stepped forward to help fill SpaceX’s gigantic water needs at its proposed Texas spaceport.

An earlier news story had noted the insufficient water capacity in Brownsville compared to the amount of water SpaceX would need for its rocket launches. This new report illustrates how competition and the potential for profits always seems to solve these kinds of problems.

The proposed SpaceX spaceport in Brownsville, Texas, has passed its final federal environmental review.

The proposed SpaceX spaceport in Brownsville, Texas, has passed its final federal environmental review.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which had raised concerns about possible impact on habitat for some endangered species, ultimately concluded that “the project is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed or proposed to be listed species nor adversely modify piping plover critical habitat.”

But wildlife officials don’t expect the project to be harmless: Two individual cats, either from the endangered ocelot or jaguarondi species, could be lost as a result of the project in spite of efforts to avoid just that with measures such as posting warning signs along the road leading to the launch site. And federal wildlife officials also anticipate that more than 7 miles of beachfront used by nesting sea turtles could be disturbed by security patrols, though driving is already permitted on the beach.

I think every American should read these two paragraphs to gain an understanding of how ridiculous these environmental regulations sometimes are. This report appears to be junk and an enormous waste of effort and time.

The bottom line is to consider what has happened in Florida. The government established a wildlife preserve surrounding the Kennedy Space Center and the wildlife has been flourishing there for more than a half century. Because a launchpad is used so infrequently (12 times a year is what SpaceX proposes for Brownsville), it inflicts very little harm on the environment.

SpaceX continues to acquire land in Texas for its planned spaceport in Brownsville.

The competition heats up: SpaceX continues to acquire land in Texas for its planned spaceport in Brownsville.

Elon Musk’s Dogleg Park LLC picked up an additional five lots in late April, bringing the total number of lots it has acquired in Cameron County to 95. The total land area that SpaceX now owns is roughly 38 acres of land, public records show. This is in addition to 56.5 acres that SpaceX has under lease at the site of what would be the world’s first private and commercial vertical launch site.

Compared to the acquisitions made by the federal government when it established its space centers in Florida and Wallops Island, these purchases are small. Nonetheless, they are likely sufficient for what the company plans to do.

Environmental activists have launched a petition drive to stop SpaceX from building a commercial spaceport in Brownsville, Texas.

The wrong side of history: Environmental activists have launched a petition drive to stop SpaceX from building a commercial spaceport near Brownsville, Texas.

“I love the space program as much, if not more, than anyone,” said Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger. “But launching big, loud, smelly rockets from the middle of a wildlife refuge will scare the heck out of every creature within miles and sprays noxious chemicals all over the place. It’s a terrible idea and SpaceX needs to find another place for their spaceport.”

This guy obviously doesn’t know that almost all of the Kennedy Space Center is a wildlife refuge, and a successful one at that. But then, what do facts have to do with most environmental causes?