While giving an interview to a local paper, Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr. provided information on SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas launch facilities currently under construction.
Judge Trevino Jr. indicated that SpaceX is largely on track to achieve an internal goal of conducting its first Texas launches in December 2018. He noted that SpaceX was “in constant contact” with the county and that he was under the impression that any delays to the December schedule “[would] cost [the company] money”. While impossible to know what sort of details or evidence SpaceX has provided Cameron County, photos and videos taken by local newspapers and residents suggest that progress is gradually being made. More importantly, after moving nearly 700 million pounds of earth, it is understood that the foundation for the launch facility is nearly complete, marking the end of one of the lengthiest and most difficult tasks needed for the new pad.
The importance of this new Texas launch facility will be the additional 12 annual launches SpaceX will be able to conduct from it. Adding to a veritable fleet of launch pads, Boca Chica will become the fourth SpaceX pad once it is activated in 2018 or 2019.
LC-40, destroyed in a static fire anomaly just over a year ago, is nearly repaired and will likely be reactivated in October. Following its reactivation, SpaceX’s team of pad engineers will move their focus to LC-39A, where they will upgrade the pad in preparation for Falcon Heavy’s inaugural launch later this year. Once the pad engineering team is finished with the majority of their East Coast construction, the team can begin to focus exclusively on SpaceX’s Texas facilities. The start of 2018 will likely see a flurry of progress made at Boca Chica.
SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch facilities have been teased in the past as a potential location for the company’s first manned interplanetary flights. Musk was quoted in 2014 saying, “it could very well be that the first person that departs for another planet could depart from Boca Chica”. One can only imagine that a small coastal town in rural Texas never expected that it might one day host the very first manned missions to Mars. Time will tell.
As for anyone interested in viewing a rocket launch, the Boca Chica facilities will provide exceptional opportunities and views. Cameron County is developing a large, 4000 person amphitheater that is expected to be used for a variety of local events, as well as rocket launch viewing parties.