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SPACEX MOVES CLOSER TO BROWNSVILLE TX LAUNCH COMPLEX
SpaceX has been extremely busy lately but with hard work comes good fortune as on Wednesday July 9, 2014 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completed a two year environmental review and has issued an Environmental Impact Statement and subsequent Record of Decision (ROD) which now clears SpaceX to submit a formal application to the FAA. The almost 74 million dollar Spaceport is likely to be built on at least 56.5 acres on Boca Chica Beach, just south of Brownsville and approximately 4 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, Cameron County, Texas.
The proposed launch complex will permit SpaceX to launch the Falcon9 and Falcon Heavy as well as smaller suborbital reusable vehicles (I would guess the Grasshopper, F9R & Dragon V2?) a combined 12 times annually through 2025.
The list of launch and testing sites is growing fast:
Omelek Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands: where all 5 Falcon 1 launches took place.
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) SLC-40, Florida: where commercial Falcon 9 launches take place.
Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) SLC-4E, California: where commercial Falcon 9 launches take place. Eventually the Falcon Heavy will also launch from here.
McGregor Test Site, McGregor, Texas: SpaceX’s test site for much of its hardware such as Grasshopper & Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R).
Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Launch Complex-39A (LC-39-A), Florida: The famed LC-39A where all but one (Apollo 10) of the Apollo Moonshots took place (to include Apollo 8), as well as Slylab and the first and last space shuttle missions has been leased for 20 years to SpaceX by NASA and the U.S. Government Acountabillity Office (GAO).
Brownsville/Boca Chica Launch Site, Texas: Proposed launch complex.
Shiloh Launch Complex: Proposed commercial non-government launch complex just north of Kennedy Space Center.
FAA Release on SpaceX South Texas Launch Site: http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/environmental/nepa_docs/review/documents_progress/spacex_texas_launch_site_environmental_impact_statement/
FAA Record of Decision: http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/environmental/nepa_docs/review/documents_progress/spacex_texas_launch_site_environmental_impact_statement/media/SpaceX_EIS_ROD.pdf
Brownsville Herald article on this news: http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/local/article_de0043e8-078a-11e4-9390-0017a43b2370.html
SPACEX & FALCON 9 MOVE FORWARD IN THE EELV PROCESS
This Friday July 11, 2014 the United States Air Force announced that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket has successfully completed the three flights necessary to progress in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. The three flights alone don’t certify SpaceX to win Government EELV contracts as the Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket must be further certified by the U.S. Air Force but SpaceX says that those requirements will be met by the end of 2014.
The entire Air Force package of requirements is known as the Cooperative Research And Development Agreement (CRADA) and it was signed in 2013. It states that the Falcon 9 v1.1 must successfully satisfy requirements in the areas of reliability, safety, manufacturing, engineering and vehicle design, launch facilities etc. So as the three flights help pave the way for government contracts, there is still much work to be done before competition for those contracts is officially underway.
SpaceX release on this milestone: http://www.spacex.com/news/2014/07/11/air-force-certifies-falcon-9-flights