Texas Legislation Approved to Enhance Aerospace Office

texas_flagThe Texas Legislature has approved a bill to enhance the role of the state’s Aerospace and Aviation Office in attracting and retaining aerospace industry. The measure was sent to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday.

The legislation would require the office to “develop short-term and long-term policy initiatives or recommend reforms the state may undertake or implement.”

The office would also “make specific short-term and long-term statutory, administrative, and budget-related recommendations to the legislature and the governor regarding the policy initiatives and reforms. The short-term recommendations must include two-year and four-year plans for state action that may be implemented or achieved on or before September 1, 2019, and September 1, 2021, respectively. The long-term recommendations must include 5-year, 10-year, and 15-year plans for state action that may be implemented or achieved on or before September 1, 2022, September 1, 2027, and September 1, 2032, respectively.”

The bill would also overhaul the membership of the Aerospace and Aviation Advisory Committee to include representatives of spaceport authorities in Midland and the Brownsville areas.

Ka-ching! Texas to Offer $15 Million for SpaceX’s Commercial Launch Facility

Artist's conception of the proposed SpaceX commercial launch facility near Brownsville, Texas.
Artist’s conception of the proposed SpaceX commercial launch facility near Brownsville, Texas.

Rio Grande Gaurdian reports that Texas State Sen. Eddie Lucio has placed a rider worth $15 million in the budget to help lure SpaceX to the Lone Star State:

“One of the things I am particularly proud of is the $15 million I put in the budget as a rider that will set us up for SpaceX. It was done at the very end and I worked with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Tommy Williams on it,” Lucio told the Guardian.

 

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Texas Spaceflight Bills Advance

texas_flagIn addition to a bill that would allow for the closing of Boca Chica Beach for SpaceX launches, three other pieces of space-related legislation are making their way through the Texas Legislature.

The bills, all sponsored by State Rep. John Davis (R-Houston), include:

  • HB 545, which would enable municipalities to establish their own spaceport development corporations;
  • HB 1791, which would align space flight activities in Texas with federal regulations;
  • HB 417, which would require one member of the state’s Aviation Advisory Committee to come from the commercial spaceflight industry.

HB 545 and HB 1791  have been approved by the House and are now before the Senate Economic Development Committee. HB 417 is before the House Transportation Committee for review.

Space Legislation Advances in Texas

texas_flagThe Texas State Senate Committee on Administration has approved a measure that would allow officials to close Boca Chica Beach to allow for SpaceX to launch Falcon rockets from a proposed launch complex near Brownsville. The approval paves the way for a vote in the full Senate, where approval is expected.

The measure had been held up for two days after John Whitmire, D-Houston, raised concerns about setting a precedent by closing a public beach for a private company. Whitmire’s concerns were addressed and he now supports the legislation, according to media reports.

Commercial Spaceflight Measures Advance in Texas Legislature

texas_flagThe Texas spaceflight informed consent law would be significantly expanded to provide significantly greater protections for spaceflight operators, manufacturers and component suppliers under legislation now making its way through the State Legislature.

The bill is one of three measures being considered by lawmakers during this session. The other two measures would clarify the liability of municipalities and add a commercial spaceflight representative to the state’s Aviation Advisory Committee.

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Cameron County Appoints Members to Spaceport Development Corporation

falcon_9_first_launch
The Cameron County Commissioners Court has appointed seven directors to oversee the brand new Cameron County Spaceport Development Corporation, whose goal is to help establish a commercial launch facility on the Texas Gulf Coast for use by SpaceX and to attract other space companies to the area.

SpaceX is eying a location near Brownsville for its commercial launches. It has requested an environmental impact study be done on the site. The California-based company also has been considering locations in Florida, Puerto Rico,  Georgia and Hawaii.

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Florida Eyes Commercial Launch Base at KSC

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

The state of Florida is looking to develop a commercial launch site at NASA Kennedy Space Center that is most likely intended for use by SpaceX, Florida Today reports:

In a letter sent Thursday to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll requested 150 acres of undeveloped land at the northern end of the space center, near the former citrus community of Shiloh.

With Federal Aviation Administration approval, the proposed launch site would operate outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Air Force’s Eastern Range, which provides safety and tracking support for all launches from KSC and Cape Canaveral.

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Texas, Florida Battle for SpaceX Spaceport


It looks like we’ve got a bidding war going for the location of SpaceX’s commercial spaceport:

Sanchez said at Thursday’s Commissioners Court meeting that the BEDC [Brownsville Economic Development Council] and the state are offering SpaceX $3 million each for a total of $6 million in efforts to attract the business to Cameron County. He said Florida is offering $10 million.

“We’re behind in the race,” Sanchez said at the meeting.

Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico have long been reported as candidates for the SpaceX project.

SpaceX spokeswoman Katherine Nelson on Thursday stated the following: “SpaceX is continuing to look at all possibilities for a private launch facility, including sites in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. We are still in the early stages of the review process.”

Read the full story.

Texas Space Alliance Brings Together Governor, Commercial Space Companies

AUSTIN, TX, JULY 18, 2012 (TXA PR) – The Texas Space Alliance (TXA) and the office of the Speaker of the House are pleased to announce the meeting in Austin between Governor Rick Perry and numerous representatives of the nation’s top new commercial space firms. The TXA team brought together representatives from SpaceX, XCOR Aerospace, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), Armadillo Aerospace, NanoRacks, Celestis, and ATK Liberty to talk about the needs of Commercial Space, and what Texas can do to fully embrace and nurture this vital, fledgling new industry.

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Perry: XCOR Move “Huge Step Forward” for Texas

Texas Gov. Rick Perry welcomes XCOR to Midland. (Credit: Griffin Communications Group)

MIDLAND, Texas (Office of Gov. Perry PR) — Gov. Rick Perry joined XCOR Aerospace and the Midland Development Corp. to announce the creation of XCOR’s new Commercial Space Research and Development Center headquarters at the Midland International Airport. XCOR develops and produces reusable launch vehicles, rocket engines and rocket propulsion systems, and will create 100 jobs at this new facility.

“This is a great day for Midland and a huge step forward for the State of Texas. Visionary companies, like XCOR, continue to choose Texas because they know that innovation is fueled by freedom,” Gov. Perry said. “Whether on the cutting edge of biotech, communications, commerce or privatized efforts to serve the needs of the next generation of space explorers, you can find Texas at the forefront of the movement.”

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Texas Looks to Incentives to Support SpaceX Commercial Launch Site

Texas is working on incentives for SpaceX to build a commercial spaceport near Brownsville, the Houston Chronicle reports:

Two sources familiar with the negotiations said the state is working on a multimillion-dollar package that could include funding from the Texas Enterprise Fund, infrastructure support from the state Department of Transportation and assistance from the Texas Workforce Commission, among others…

On Friday a spokesman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry confirmed that the state is engaged in talks with SpaceX.

“We’re very supportive of this project,” said Allison Castle. “We’re coordinating with every agency across state government that might have a positive impact on this project.”

In some respects, the state is well behind some of its competitors for the spaceport, which would launch up to 10 rockets a year, initially carrying cargo payloads but eventually including human passengers.

The successful flight of Dragon to ISS this week will give SpaceX Founder Elon Musk a much stronger hand in dealing with state officials. SpaceX is also looking at locations in Florida, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

Read the full story.

SpaceX Looks to Build Commercial Spaceport in Texas


Some big news just in (via Clark Lindsey over at Hobby Space) that SpaceX is looking to build a commercial spaceport on the Gulf Coast in Cameron County, Texas. The news came in a published notice that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the plan.

Under the Proposed Action, SpaceX proposes to construct a vertical launch area and a control center area to support up to 12 commercial launches per year. The vehicles to be launched include the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy (up to two per year), and a variety of smaller reusable suborbital launch vehicles. SpaceX would be required to apply for the appropriate launch licenses and/or experimental permits to be issued by the FAA.

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Texas to Millionauts: You’re On Your Own

A Titan rocket explodes just after liftoff. (Credit: USAF)
Spaceflight operators in Texas are all but exempt from being sued for injuries and deaths they cause to their passengers by placing the following 51-word warning in their flight agreements with clients.

I UNDERSTAND AND ACKNOWLEDGE THAT A SPACE FLIGHT ENTITY IS NOT LIABLE FOR ANY INJURY TO OR DEATH OF A SPACE FLIGHT PARTICIPANT RESULTING FROM SPACE FLIGHT ACTIVITIES. I UNDERSTAND THAT I HAVE ACCEPTED ALL RISK OF INJURY, DEATH, PROPERTY DAMAGE, AND OTHER LOSS THAT MAY RESULT FROM SPACE FLIGHT ACTIVITIES.

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Informed Consent Measure Advances in Texas, Delegation Lobbies Florida Legislature

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

In Texas, an informed consent bill that would require spaceflight participants to sign waivers acknowledging the risks they face has passed the Senate by a 31-0 bill. The measure, which now heads to the House, gives commercial space operators protections from being sued in the event of injuries or deaths resulting from flights.

Meanwhile, Apollo moon walker Charlie Duke and shuttle astronaut Kay Hire were part of a 70-member delegation that descended upon Tallahassee yesterday to lobby for more financial and legislative support for the Florida Space Coast’s ailing economy.

The group lobbied lawmakers in favor of Space Florida’s $10 million budget and a series of incentives intended to lure new businesses to the state, which faces massive layoffs as a result of the end of NASA’s space shuttle program. The fate of those measures remain uncertain as the Legislature struggles to close a $3.6 billion budget shortfall.