Space X, Elon Musk’s space launch business, has not announced that Cameron County, Texas will be the home of their launch facility. But Florida has already given up. And the FAA has approved the facility (this link also has maps!).
For those of you not familiar with Texas, Cameron County is along the coast at the very southern tip of the state. That gives the rockets a lot of the Gulf of Mexico to fly over. I suspect that the most common launch paths will mean the rockets miss Florida totally.
This is very cool because Musk has very big dreams and (thanks to inventing Paypal) plenty of money to make them happen. It’s also good for a state that is so diverse. One the one hand, we have the Johnson Space Center, where every NASA manned flight was controlled for nearly 40 years. We have two of the greatest universities in the US, the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M. And we have a solid core of high technology businesses moving here.
But we also have science deniers, dominionists, and a nearly dysfunctional public school board who thinks that people with history degrees should have no say in what’s in a history book.
With more intelligent people moving into the state, maybe we can turn this place around.
Anyway, the facility seems to have permission for 12 launches per year. Which isn’t a lot, but once the launches start, there’s nothing really stopping them from getting permission for more. Which is what he’ll need to put “a large number of people on Mars” in 10 – 12 years. Some people disagree that a Mars colony is feasible… and I tend to agree with them.
But then again, when John F. Kennedy made his manned mission to the moon speech at Rice University only three people had ever even been in space and only one had orbited the planet. And yet, seven years later, humans stepped foot on the moon.
What is impossible today may be common place tomorrow. Time and again we see that happen.
BTW: Musk announced today that the third Tesla vehicle, the Model III, will be for sale (hopefully) in 2017. Who would have thought, even 8 years ago, that all electric cars would be a viable vehicle? Really, of course, they make the most sense, but that’s another story.