Skip to main content

The Brief: Aug. 5, 2014

SpaceX on Monday chose to place its first commercial launch complex on Boca Chica beach near Brownsville. The announcement solidified Texas' leading position in the country's space program even as it transitions to one with greater opportunities for private companies.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, right, at the return of the Dragon spacecraft with NASA chief Charles Bolden, left, on June 13, 2012.

The Big Conversation

SpaceX on Monday chose to place the first commercial launch complex on Boca Chica beach near Brownsville. The announcement solidified Texas' leading position in the country's space program even as it transitions to one with greater opportunities for private companies.

"A combination of financial incentives, pro-business climate and favorable geography wooed the California-based company, and its spaceport furthers the ambitions of Texas to become a major player in the 21st century commercial space industry," the Houston Chronicle's Eric Berger wrote. "As Texas seeks to build a nucleus of private space businesses, a SpaceX spaceport should further galvanize interest in the state as a place that is friendly not only to NASA but commercial companies as well."

Calling the new SpaceX facility "the world’s first commercial Cape Canaveral," the Austin American-Statesman's Laylan Copelin wrote, "As federal spending on space has been cut, the private sector has stepped forward, trying to make space commerce both profitable and reliable. ... At Boca Chica, SpaceX will launch rockets for its commercial clients and foreign governments as early as 2016, according to Brownsville officials."

The project is expected to generate hundreds of jobs over the next decade, officials said on Monday. The investment was helped along by government financial incentives and other help. The Texas Enterprise Fund, for instance, is giving SpaceX $2.3 million. Another $13 million will go to a development corporation that is putting in the infrastructure to support the site, Copelin wrote. And the Legislature last year acted to help, introducing changes to the law to allow SpaceX to shut down the beach periodically for launches.

The Day Ahead

•    The Legislative Budget Board meets at 11 a.m. in the House Appropriations Committee Room to hear a report from the state comptroller on the state's financial condition. (agenda)

•    The House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee meets at 9 a.m. in the Capitol Extension for an update on ongoing border operations as well as to hear testimony on draft legislation on both the Driver Responsibility Program and the storage of ammonium nitrate. (agenda)

•    The House Select Committee on Transportation Funding, Expenditures and Finance meets at 1 p.m. in the Capitol Extension to discuss potential sources of revenue. (agenda)

•    State Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, hosts a half-day desalination summit in Corpus Christi. (agenda)

•    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis holds an 11 a.m. press conference in Austin at the Travis County coordinated campaign headquarters.

Trib Must-Reads

News App: Texas Hospitals Explorer, by Marcos Vanetta, Becca Aaronson and Ryan Murphy

Congressional Inaction Leaves Border Communities Hoping for Funds, by Julián Aguilar

Lawmakers Question Perry's Funding of National Guard, by Terri Langford and Jay Root

Tea Party Candidates Face Off in State Senate Election, by Eli Okun and John Reynolds


Perry launches RickPAC federal campaign fund, San Antonio Express-News

At trial, clinics say abortion regulation harms women, Austin American-Statesman

Court rulings in Alabama and Mississippi keep clinics open. What about Texas?, Slate

Prosecutor under fire in contested Texas execution, The Associated Press

Feds: Large, small companies hired Price consultant charged in scandal, The Dallas Morning News

Legislators want quick action on Ike Dike, Houston Chronicle

Is Texas ready to upgrade bingo technology?, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

List of hopefuls shorter than expected for Senate District 28 seat, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Quote to Note

"It's clear that competition to attract commercial space companies is hot and getting hotter. It's not rocket science. An attractive financial package, whether it's cash, offsets, tax advantages or something else, carries a lot of weight."

Michael Lopez-Alegria, a four-time astronaut and president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, on Brownsville successfully wooing SpaceX to South Texas

Today in TribTalk

How UT got it right on sexual assault, by Julia Spann

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    The Texas Tribune Festival runs from Sept. 19-21 at the University of Texas at Austin.

Bonus event! Skip the line and join us at legendary Franklin Barbecue for an intimate dinner and a lively discussion about the upcoming election with Chris Hayes of MSNBC. This event is not included in the regular Festival badge and requires an extra ticket. Barbecue and beer are included with the ticket price of $250.

Purchase your ticket when you register, but hurry as space is extremely limited. Tickets on sale now.

Texans need truth. Help us report it.

Support independent Texas news

Become a member. Join today.

Donate now

Explore related story topics

Energy Environment Health care Politics Brandon Creighton Rick Perry Todd Hunter Wendy Davis