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SpaceX picks South Texas site for commercial launch facility

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SpaceX has chosen a South Texas site to build its planned commercial rocket launch facility, Texas Gov. Rick Perry's office said Monday.

Texas is offering $2.3 million in incentives to SpaceX from the Enterprise fund, the governor's office said. The state is offering $13 million from the Spaceport Trust Fund to the Cameron County Spaceport Development Corp. The Spaceport Trust Fun is used to support the development of infrastructure necessary for establishing a spaceport.

Founded by billionaire Elon Musk, SpaceX plans to build the world's first private, commercial vertical rocket launch site. The proposed South Texas site which is at Boca Chica, a remote beach surrounded by wildlife areas about 20 miles east of Brownsville had been competing with sites in Florida and Georgia for the launch facility.

SpaceX getting the state incentives money is contingent on approval of local incentives deal, the governor's office said. The facility is expected to create 300 jobs and bring $85 million in capital investment into the local economy.

"SpaceX is excited to expand our work in Texas with the world's first commercial launch complex designed specifically for orbital missions. We appreciate the support of Gov. Perry and numerous other federal, state and local officials who have partnered with us to make this vision a reality," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a written statement. "In addition to creating hundreds of high tech jobs for the Texas workforce, this site will inspire students, expand the supplier base and attract tourists to the south Texas area."

On July 7, SpaceX cleared a Federal Aviation Administration environmental review for the Texas site, which some experts had said was the final key hurdle for the Texas site.

SpaceX will continue its NASA-funded launches at Cape Canaveral in Florida, but Musk envisions a commercial spaceport focused on business from companies and foreign governments as well as space tourism. SpaceX is expected to continue building its Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy rockets at its Hawthorne, Calif., plant, but Texas officials hope the next generation of larger rockets will have to be built closer to the launch site because they will be too big to transport long distances over highways.

In 2013, the Texas Legislature changed the law to make it easier for SpaceX to operate in Texas.

Under the new state law, SpaceX could launch rockets up to 12 times a year, mostly between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., but not on weekends or holidays unless the company can show local and state authorities that scrubbing a launch would cause significant business consequences. At least one nighttime launch would be allowed per year.

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