Cameron County's new Mars Crossing development doesn't sound like the kind of place to raise a kid.
In fact: A) it will, at times, be loud as hell; and B) there probably won't be any houses to raise them if you did.
That's because the newly platted lot near Boca Chica Beach is probably going to hold the command center for SpaceX's all-but-official South Texas spaceport.
The Valley Morning Star reports that SpaceX front company Dogleg Park LLC has added 28 new lots to the 60 it already owned at and around the beach near Brownsville. Thirteen of those lots were then replatted to become a single lot of a bit more than 8 acres under the "Mars Crossing Subdivision" name.
SpaceX now owns about 36 acres of land and leases an additional 56.5 acres, the Morning Star's Emma Perez-Treviño reports.
The Hawthorne, Calif.-based commercial spaceflight company has been looking for a private spaceport to join the launch complexes it operates at U.S. Air Force sites in Florida and California. The Boca Chica site has always been seen as the leading contender, though sites in Florida, Georgia and Puerto Rico are also under consideration.
"A location decision on the new launch complex will be made once all technical and regulatory due diligence is complete," was all a company spokeswoman would say in a recent email.
The main outstanding regulatory issue appears to be the Federal Aviation Administration's final environmental impact statement. (A draft issued last April, all 350 pages of it, is here.)
GETTING A LEG UP (AND DOWN): The news site NASASpaceFlight.com relays word of a talk Wednesday night by SpaceX cofounder Tom Mueller, including confirmation that the Falcon 9 rocket scheduled for a March 16 launch from Florida will have its landing legs attached and will attempt a first-stage ocean splashdown for recovery.
This was attempted once before, on the revamped Falcon 9's maiden flight last September, and came tantalizingly close to completion: a re-entry burn was successful, and the rocket was close to the water burning a single engine for the final slowdown when it spun out of control. The legs weren't on that first stage, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said the legs would have offered added stability that might have prevented the spin.
Another problem, as Mueller said Wednesday, was that the spin centrifuged fuel away from the rocket engines — and that the baffles in the fuel tanks weren't designed for those particular stresses (lending weight to a hypothesis about what exactly SpaceX was testing when a tank ruptured in November at the company's McGregor test site).
WEIGHTIER MATTERS: Satellite operator SES, which has already sent the SES-8 communications satellite up on a Falcon 9 rocket, has tapped the Falcon 9 again to launch the heavier SES-10, according to a SpaceNews report.
The surprise here is that at 5,300 kg (11,684 lbs.), SES-10 is heavier than what SpaceX has previously said even the new improved Falcon 9 can lift (4,850 kg, or 10,692 lbs). SES-8, for comparison, was 3,138 kg, or 6,918 lbs.
The thought, therefore, was that SES-10 would be launching on the behemoth Falcon Heavy. But Falcon Heavy has yet to fly or even be tested (a partly underground test stand is under construction next to the existing Falcon 9 stand at the McGregor site). And, apparently, SpaceX was keeping some of the new Falcon 9's power up its sleeve.
STILL A STARTUP: And, finally, here's SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell talking to Forbes about how, despite its massive growth, the company has retained a startup ethic.