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The Private Space Race

J VanDomelen

J VanDomelen

Posted Mar 30, 2011
1 Comment

The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2012, if approved, will revert NASA’s spending to 2010 levels overall. This geek wonders if, as federal funds for space exploration shrink, commercial investment in space innovations will grow. If the previous couple years are any indication, the private space race is likely to heat up and reach new heights (hopefully low Earth orbit, most often referred to as LEO).

Two big names pioneering the privatization of the space flight industry, in particular, continue to make headlines. One such pioneer is Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) in Hawthorne, Calif.

SpaceX and the City of McGregor, Texas, have signed a lease agreement allowing SpaceX to expand the size of its rocket development facility in McGregor.

According to the agreement, SpaceX will lease 631 acres — the equivalent of almost 500 football fields — for its test facility. The new lease will more than double the size of the current 256-acre site on the Western edge of the City of McGregor and will last roughly 10 years, from February 2011 to January 31, 2021.

View of the large test stand, part of SpaceX’s rocket development facilities in McGregor, Texas.

View of the large test stand, part of SpaceX’s rocket development facilities in McGregor, Texas.

“Our Texas rocket development facility is critical to our operations,” explains Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and chief technology officer. “This lease will allow us to move forward on the growth we have planned for Texas. SpaceX already has more than $2.5 billion in launch contracts for us to carry out over the next few years — McGregor is going to be a very busy place.”

The McGregor city council voted unanimously to support the proposal on Friday, February 25, 2011.

This geek has much to say about another commercial space pioneer, Virgin Galactic. See my last blog for an update on the company, Sir Branson and his team, and SpaceShipTwo.

Milaero, Mil-Aero, Military, Aerospace, Geek, Add new tag, Mentor Graphics, nasa, Sir Richard Charles Branson, Mentor.com, LEO, spacex, Mentor, Virgin Galactic

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