Everyone’s favourite space exploration company received approval from the FAA last week to build their own spaceport on the most south-eastern corner of Texas, just beyond the border with Mexico.
At the moment, Space X operate from launch sites at Cape Canaverel and Vandenburg AFB, but last week the FAA granted a “Record of Decision” that appears to grant Space X permission to use a site in Texas situated less than five miles from the US-Mexico border in the Gulf of Mexico.
The document has a list of proposed activities from Space X concerning development that they would carry out at the site:
Proposed launch operations would consist of up to 12 commercial launch operations per year, including launches of the Falcon 9, a maximum of two Falcon Heavy launches, and/or associated mission rehearsals and static fire engine tests, through 2025.
Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches would have commercial payloads, including satellites or experimental payloads, and may carry a capsule, such as the SpaceX Dragon capsule. The Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy use liquid fuels including liquid oxygen and rocket propellant-1. Within the 12 launch operations per year, SpaceX may elect to have permitted launches of smaller reusable suborbital launch vehicles from this proposed site. A reusable suborbital launch vehicle could consist of a Falcon 9 Stage 1 tank. All launch trajectories would be to the east over the Gulf of Mexico.
The majority of launches would be conducted between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00p.m. However, there could be one nighttime launch per year. All launch operations, including preflight activities (e.g., mission rehearsals and static fire engine tests), would be conducted under the control of SpaceX and FAA, and in accordance with a Letter of Authorization from Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center.
The decision document makes clear that Space X still has a lot of things to sort out with regards to local laws with things like noise limits, water and air quality assessment and other needed approvals, but it appears as far as the FAA is concerned, Space X have the green light.
Image: A Falcon 9 rocket lifts Thaicom 6 to orbit in January 2014. Credit: Space X