What will SpaceX’s future “spaceport” in South Texas look like?

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As part of a federal review process, details of SpaceX’s proposed future spaceport in South Texas were released late last week. Here is what we know.

The small village of Boca Chica (Texas), which has no more than twenty inhabitants, is currently home to SpaceX facilities intended to serve its Starship project, which aims to send humans to the Moon and Mars. And this project begins to gain momentum, as the thefts of prototypes succeed one another. So inevitably, we will have to expand. A few months ago, Elon Musk, the founder of the company, spoke of the construction of a “spaceport” on this same site. But what are we talking about exactly?

New launch pads

New documents published a few days ago in a public notice from the Corps of Engineers of the United States Army allow us to see a little more clearly. These reports include a detailed architectural drawing of the site. Among the main existing equipment, other structures will soon be built:

Two orbital launch pads
– Two suborbital launch pads, one of which already exists
– Two landing platforms, one of which already exists
– Two structural test benches for Starship and the Super Heavy booster, enough to allow controls and measurements of their behavior in conditions of use.
– A large “reservoir park” to provide ground support equipment for orbital flights
– A permanent position for the “Starhopper” at the entrance to the site. This old prototype is now used as a weather station, relay antenna and camera for launches.

All of these facilities will be concentrated on just a few dozen acres. The site will also include stormwater ponds to mitigate the risk of flooding.

Still, these four launch pads, associated with the acquisition of two oil platforms (now named Phobos and Deimos, like the Martian moons), give an idea of ​​the company’s future operational capacities. More than ever, the future of the Starship and human space flight to the planet Mars will be played out in Texas.

SpaceX’s launch site seen from the sky over Texas, with the SN10 on its platform in early March. Credit: Maxar Technology

Soon a “SpaceX city” in Texas?

Recently, Musk also offered to integrate the nearby village of Boca Chica into a “new town,” called Starbase, he announced via Twitter. On the other hand, this project, if it has to be done, will undoubtedly not be for tomorrow.

“If SpaceX and Elon Musk want to take such steps, they will have to follow all the rules in force in the state”, has already warned Eddie Treviño, a local magistrate. Before building this new city and encompassing the village of Boca Chica, SpaceX “Will have to overcome a lot of obstacles”, he also tempered with the press agency Bloomberg.

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